Renault Execs Suspected of Leaking Automakerís Electric Car Secrets
January 8, 2011
by Huw Evans
French automaker Renault, recently said that its strategic assets have been put at risk, due to suspected industrial espionage, particularly with reference to the firmís electric vehicle technology.
Renault has been working on a new long range strategy, much of which includes a focus on electric vehicle technology and cooperation with partner Nissan Ė at present, total investment between the two companies is believed to amount to 4 billion euros ($5.3 billion U.S.), with Renault alone, planning to build more than 200,000 electric vehicles a year by 2016.
However, the plan is now believed to be at risk, due to an internal investigation that reportedly found three Renault executives to have leaked confidential documents to outside sources. French Industry minister Eric Besson, spoke to the press on Thursday January 6, stating ďI have asked the economy ministry administration Ö to strengthen the requirements for protection of companies that ask for state aid and financial contributions for innovation.Ē
Besson also said, during an interview on French radio station RTL that the Renault espionage incident illustrates once again the risks our companies face in terms of industrial espionage and economic intelligence.
The official line from Renault, is that the three employees accused of leaking the information are still regarded only as suspects, with no formal charges yet announced against them. Although currently under suspension, they face disciplinary action and likely dismissal if found guilty of industrial espionage.
One source told Reuters that carelessness on the part of Renaultís security protocol rather than the employeeís intention to leak the information could also be a factor, especially with proliferation of social media delivery platforms Ė an executive within the intelligence gathering community, cited a hypothetical example of an enthusiastic employee saying too much about their work to their friends via online forums or other similar outlets as something that could easily happen. The investigation continues.