Renault suspects Chinese in espionage case

Electric Kangoo model from Renault
Electric Kangoo model from Renault Reuters

French automaker Renault says top managers who were suspended for alleged industrial espionage were supplying details of the company's electric car to China.


Le Figaro newspaper claims several sources at the company say both Renault and the French secret service suspect Chinese involvement in the affair.

Le Figaro is not the only news organisation to point to China's role in the espionage scandal that has rocked the country's strategically important auto sector.

Weekly news magazine Le Point reports that the stolen secets included details of how to build batteries for electric vehicles. It also claims that a French automobile sub-contractor had acted as an intermediary with Chinese buyers.

Renault and its Japanese partner, Nissan, have staked their future on electric vehicles and plan to launch several models by 2014 to meet the rising demand for environmentally friendly methods.

Renault has so far refused to comment on allegations of Chinese involvement in the scandal.

But an industry ministry source told the french news agency that is was unacceptable that an innovation financed by the French taxpayers should end up in the hands of the Chinese.

Renault is the latest company to be hit by allegations of industrial espionage.

Tyre manufacturer Michelin and autoparts make Valeo have also been targets of spying.

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