France Investigates Renault Spying Case The French security services have launched an investigation into allegations of industrial espionage at the giant French car maker Renault The company suspended three managers earlier this week, and today the Paris newspaper Le Figaro said the executives had provided company secrets to China. Renault, together with its Japanese partner Nissan, has been at the forefront of research into electric vehicles and battery technology in recent years. It's believed the information leak was related to that research.
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France Investigates Renault Spying Case

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France Investigates Renault Spying Case

France Investigates Renault Spying Case

France Investigates Renault Spying Case

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The French security services have launched an investigation into allegations of industrial espionage at the giant French car maker Renault The company suspended three managers earlier this week, and today the Paris newspaper Le Figaro said the executives had provided company secrets to China. Renault, together with its Japanese partner Nissan, has been at the forefront of research into electric vehicles and battery technology in recent years. It's believed the information leak was related to that research.

MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Michele Norris.

MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

FOREIGN LANGUAGE SPOKEN

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY: Reporter Bill Diem covers the car industry in France. He says Renault and its partner Nissan are investing billions of dollars in electric car technology.

BILL DIEM: Between Renault and Nissan, they're investing 4 billion euros over the next three or four years to put out a total of eight electric vehicles. Nobody else is doing anything like that much.

BEARDSLEY: The French government, which owns a 15 percent stake in Renault, is taking the accusations very seriously. The auto sector is a major employer in France. President Nicolas Sarkozy is reported to have asked French intelligence services to investigate the role China might have played in the affair. French industry minister Eric Besson warned of an overall risk to French industry.

ERIC BESSON: (Through translator) This is a huge danger for French industry, and what happened at Renault is nothing less than economic warfare. We have to be on our guard for the future.

BEARDSLEY: Journalist Bill Diem says he wonders if Renault isn't overreacting. He remembers how the company responded when a magazine published a photo of one of its prototypes, a common occurrence in the automobile press.

DIEM: Renault went ballistic and they made a complaint to the police, and the police arrested the journalist who had printed it in his magazine. And that's crazy. Well, it just makes me think that Renault is paranoid.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

DIEM: I will use the word.

BEARDSLEY: For NPR news, I'm Eleanor Beardsley in Paris.

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