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France Says It’s a Target of ‘Economic War’ in Renault Spy Case

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Topics:  Renault

France Says It’s a Target of ‘Economic War’ in Renault Spy Case

VOA Breaking News (Voice of America)
January 6, 2011 at 7:52 pm

France's industrial chief says the country is a target of “economic war” in the leak of secrets about the electric cars being developed by French car maker Renault.

French Industry Minister Eric Besson did not say Thursday who was trying to steal information about the car maker's work on four all-electric models it plans to introduce in the next year. But he said the case demonstrated the risk that French companies face from “industrial espionage and corporate intelligence.”

Earlier this week, Renault suspended three executives suspected of leaking information about the new electric vehicles. A company lawyer said Renault intends to pursue legal action against the officials for what he said were actions that “deliberately” endangered the company's assets.

The French government owns 15 percent of Renault. It has joined Japanese car maker Nissan in seeking to become an industry leader in the manufacture of all-electric cars. Together, the two companies have invested more than $5 billion in developing the vehicles.

Auto makers throughout the world have been rushing to produce their version of all-electric cars. Manufacturers view them as a lucrative niche market and a more environmentally friendly alternative to traditional vehicles which have internal combustion engines powered by gasoline.

Some car makers have already been selling the vehicles in the United States, Japan and elsewhere. They typically can be driven for up to 160 kilometers before their batteries need to be recharged.

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