• Jan 14, 2011
Renault's zero-emissions lineup

The industrial espionage case involving three top Renault execs and electric vehicle secrets (and maybe China) continues, as the French carmaker has officially filed an accusation against a foreign private company. The company involved was not made public, but the filing does not cite a foreign power, according to Jean-Claude Marin, a Paris prosecutor, in Reuters. In fact, the French government began stepping away from rumors that China is involved with this industrial espionage case. Even still, a member of the conservative UMP party told France-Info radio that, "There are in effect several sources that are typically thought to be serious who consider that a Chinese buyer is in fact behind this operation." That buyer might be a Chinese power company, which French newspaper Le Figaro reported laundered at least 630,000 Euros (around $841,800 U.S.) into bank accounts in Switzerland and Liechtenstein opened by the executives. For its part, China has denied any involvement.

Prosecutor Marin must now make a decision to either oversee his own investigation or to open a judicial inquiry that will go before an independent magistrate. The French intelligence service, Direction Centrale du Renseignement Intérieur (DCRI), has also been looking into the case.

We still don't know the details of what was allegedly stolen, but Renault Chief Operating Officer Patrick Pelata tells Reuters that the company's key technology for electric vehicles is still safe. Nissan executive Carlos Tavares said he "completely trusts" Renault in handling the matter. The Renault-Nissan alliance has invested 4 billion euros ($5.17 billion) in electric vehicles.

The three senior Renault executives who have been suspended are denying their guilt. A lawyer for the highest-ranking of the three defendants notes, "He's shocked by it, let's be clear about it... He's going to clear his name." Another described his suspension as Kafkaesque, and that the men are reportedly still trying to figure out what they are being accused of. So are we.

[Sources: Reuters, Independent, Economic Times, The Wall Street Journal, Plug In Cars]


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  • 22 Comments
      • 3 Years Ago
      We allow all our manufacturing to go to china in the name of unobstructed captilism, to a country which steals and doesn't care about patents and hard work and money of R&D done in the west.

      Thought to ponder or still ignore and elect people like bush/obama/mcain/palin? The current generations lethargic attitude is putting the hard work of our veterans to shame.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Hazdaz, I agree with what you said, except that Germany (where I am living now) cant block out chinese products with tariffs more than any other EU country because of EU regulations. And we all know how some of those other countries are doing.

        Germany, I believe, has a sense of national pride on their own goods, from cars to any other thing that keeps this market of 80 million mostly well off people buying what they make. And in the meantime selling their things to the rest of the world. Americans could learn A LOT from Germany in this respect.

        I come from Colombia and we used to have American cars as a standard of comfort and cutting edge design and technology. Somewhere along the way things went wrong. I am glad to see that things are starting to change.
        • 3 Years Ago
        World should realize that china is dangerous fascist state.

        LYONS: China's imperialism on full display
        http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/jan/11/chinas-imperialism-on-full-display/
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Hazdaz Totally agree, but the only reason i lumped obama is because he talks too much than what he does. Being better than GOP candidates doesnt mean he is fit for the president.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Accusation != truth

        Just a thought.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @ Level

        Of course its political.
        These are MACROeconomic forces at play here.

        When Bubba goes to Walmart to buy Widget USA or Widget China, chances are he is going to choose the cheapest one. This is a MICROeconomic purchase. He isn't (unfortunately) thinking on the macro-scale that everyone buying Widget China is going to put his neighbor out of work. You can claim that Bubba is a dumbass for buying so-and-so product, but the reality is that its not how most consumers think whether we like it or not.

        And at some point, it doesn't even become a choice anymore... go look where 90+% of all your tools, electronics, gadgets, appliances, toys, clothes are made. Even if you wanted to, you couldn't buy American-made.

        This is where a government entity is the only thing that can stop companies from closing shop and shipping jobs overseas. I realize that 30 years of right wing rhetoric have made way too many people fearful of government intervention, but it is a LACK of government intervention that has gotten us into the mess we are in with this type of issues - too big for Mom and Pop Consumer to make a difference, which gives companies the upper hand to do as they please.

        And I am not saying that trade is bad... far from it actually. It helps make the products available to consumers as good as they can be, and keeps their costs to a minimum. But unfettered capitolism simply puts corporate profits first even when that means workers, and an entire nation, ends up paying the price.

        There is a very good reason why Germany - even through this Great Recession - has one of the strongest economies on the planet. Even with its high labor costs (on par with the US), it is seeing high employment in all sectors, including manufacturing. One way is that they simply do not let low-ball Chinese goods in.

        • 3 Years Ago
        @ Idrent

        You have to remember that a President isn't a dictator (even when some of them act like it). For most things, they can't just decree for this or that to happen without support from Congress. The right-wingers have vehemently tried to stop every and any legislation that O tried to get through no matter what. Simply because O was supporting it, automatically meant that the Party of No "had to" oppose it.

        The NeoCons and their strive to please Big Business with unencvmbered capitalism at all costs (to the detriment of country and person) are the ones to blame for this mess.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Why is it that whenever a Chinese company or group in China does anything people make it sound like the entire country is behind this. If it was an Italian car company would you ever write an article about "Italy behind Renault spying"? It's hilariously stupid to think of a country of 1.5 billion people with tons of provinces all run almost entirely independently, filled with dozens of car companies as a single entity. A quarter of the world's population lives there you know, it's not some tiny town.
        So a bunch of Renault's own high level execs were trading information with some car company in China. How is this suddenly the doing of the entire country of China? This is a capitalist industrial espionage case at best, and it's probably not even that fancy-the execs might have just been shopping this around presenting it as legitimate.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Hazdaz, The President and congress are powerless to stop a manufacturer from relocating. The only thing they can do is make the homefront friendly and competitive and give them a reason not to do so. High wages is the predominent factor followed by high corporate federal, state and local taxes, high health care costs only to explode in cost once the Obama health care disaster takes full throttle, high workmans compensation and unemployment costs, over regulation in a vast assortment of areas, huge property taxes, high impact fees and high tort costs.
        One shinning example of Obamanomics is the very state he served his apprentice in. Illinois. Our state is hands down the most corrupt state in the union and is on the verge of bankruptcy. An unemployment rate of 9.2% and true estimates of 18%, and is rated as one of the worse business friendly states. Early this week the liberal loons in our state passed a 66% increase in Illinois income tax and corporate taxes went to 7%. A client of mine for more than 30 years announce on Friday that all renovation and construction bids for his storage business of 6 buildings at 65,000 sq. ft. each will be cancelled as he seeks to relocate to a more business friendly location in neighboring Indiana. Rep. Governor Mitch Daniels claimed living next to Illinois is like living next to the Simpsons. Illinois, the laughing stock of the nation that has the most clueless and icompetent politicians is the model of what a clueless and incompetent President has in store for you. Had the republicans not won the house the Bush tax cuts would only have compounded the business burden. Party of NO? Should be the party of HELL NO. You can't reduce the trade deficit without in some part reducing the Federal deficit.

        http://blog.heritage.org/2010/02/05/past-deficits-vs-obamas-deficits-in-pictures/

        Half way through the month no telling how far it's going to go.

        http://www.americaneconomicalert.org/ticker_home.asp

        The only credible reason for a decline in the trade deficit is very simple. An estimated true unemployment rate of 20% and a long, lingering recession with few people buying anything. This link brought to you from the most liberal left nut swinging Obama propaganda rag.

        http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/15/bigger-trade-deficits-coming/?src=busln
        • 3 Years Ago
        everyone is a critic...bottom line outsourcing is not political;dem or rep, it is a consumer driving machine...majority of the people are not willing to pay more for made in the USA goods...but everyone likes to be a hypocrite and point fingers...stop pointing fingers and look at our own households; how much stuff you bought was imported...the only people that have a right to be a critic are the one's currently only buying made grown produced in the USA everyone else is a hypocrite...
      • 3 Years Ago
      Yeah, nice try AB. Like China would ever have such wanton disregard for business ethics. Besides, they weren't stealing secrets, they were doing field research. If they were stealing, they would have just hacked Renault's network like they do everyone else's.
      • 3 Years Ago
      It's great to get cheap products but with everything else in life, everything has a price...nothing is free...

      China is extremely dangerous. I have many friends who were born in China(not Chinese decent but actual citizens of China) and their culture and thought processes are completely different to ours. One cannot use our western thinking and apply it to China.

      I don't want to get in a debate about creativity and the like but it's interesting to note that even today, very little innovation from a pure science angle which turns into actual products, gets done in Asian countries. I come from an automation background in engineering and the products that come from Asia(Japan), while of very high quality, are rarely innovative, nor do they make any strides in moving automation to the next level. For this you must look to products coming from the Europeans, and primarily Germany. German engineering is simply in a different galaxy that most other countries. Their education system is geared(no pun intended) around this.

      • 3 Years Ago
      What accusation? How do you think companies like BYD caught up with 21st century automobiles?
      http://www.autoblog.com/2009/03/27/rx-for-success-or-lawsuit-chinas-byd-gets-its-lexus-tribute/
      • 3 Years Ago
      China involved in corporate espionage?

      Well color me shocked.

      Its the Chinese way. Why innovate, when you can just steal your way to the top?
      • 3 Years Ago
      I think there is a very real possibility that eventually we enter a sort of "Economic Cold War" with China, if we haven't already. They have shift business practices and the kind of ethics that would make make Enron executives blush.

      As for China "stealing" our jobs, you all need to read more about economics to understand that they don't. Chinese Exports are paid with American Imports. So if they send us a billion dollars worth of DVD players, we pay them with a billion dollars worth of heavy equipment. That's how it works. It sucks for the people who made DVD players in America, but it gives the people who make heavy equipment more work. Thus is life.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @ carlosol

        They aren't just doing it in the turbine industry.
        They have the same stipulation in the electric vehicle industry... you want to sell your EVs there, you HAVE TO partner with a Chinese company.

        How convenient for them.
        And the same thing will happen to any foreign car companies as you mentioned happened to that Spanish turbine company. The French automakers were smart enough to tell the Chinese to bugger-off because they know that if they agreed to this, they would be essentially training their own worst enemies in the coming years.
        Other companies aren't quite as smart.





        • 3 Years Ago
        "P.S. I have nothing against the chinese people, they are polite, fun, educated people. "

        hahaha...
        • 3 Years Ago
        The economics here aren't quite what you're describing. Dollars can't leave the US economy they have to come back somehow. If someone shove dollars in their mattresses that's actually giving the US government a free loan. That's why Europe has been trying so hard to establish the Euro so they can get that free loan. Either the Chinese buy goods or the invest in the US (which is what China does). That investment creates jobs here (mostly government but jobs none the less). It keeps our interests low and inflation low. The problem is we eventually have to pay that debt back, likely in the form of goods because you can't consume money by itself and US investments generate more US dollars. This cycle is not sustainable. The Chinese will face a huge loss on investment and will have basically given us stuff for free (fine crappy stuff but stuff none the less).

        The problem is that by the laws of economics our spending must balance (C - S + I + G - T + X - M = 0). If we import less goods the we lose that Chinese investment back. Since the Chinese are investing in our government we would have to raise taxes. Now taxes lower our disposable income we would either have to save less or buy less. The actual trick to lowering the trade deficit has nothing to do with buy less from China it's actually just buy less. If we buy less consumption (C) decreases and something else must go down with it and most likely that would be imports (M). If we simply drop M without dropping C then either government spending (G) would drop (good luck with that) or Taxes would have to rise.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Hazdaz: They OWE you money. Legally, they have to give it back. It's not like you're working at Wal-Mart and they didn't put 25$ of overtime on your pay. This is billions. If they don't pay, the US can simply seize or freeze imports or confiscate Chinese owned US assets. They'll pay, they have to. The international community has a stake in this as well.

        I didn't say the Chinese were honest, I said that the market doesn't work the way you think it does. People seem to think we're sending money to other countries in big bags and buying cheap items hand over fist. We're not. We are TRADING. Which is why it's called International T-R-A-D-E and not International Purchase. It is beneficial because some countries can produce items more efficiently and cheaply than we can, just like we can produce items that are of higher quality than they can. We trade, everyone wins. That's how it works.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Hazdaz, totally agree with what you're saying. I read recently how the chinese demanded that a Spanish wind turbine company (or any other company that manufactured "green" tech in China) to buy 90% of their inputs in China.

        However, since no Chinese company had the inputs they needed, they trained people to make them, spending a lot of money and time.

        Then these people just started their own company, out-priced the spanish and now dominate the domestic market (the spanish saw their share drop from 30% to less than 10% of the market). They've done it with "green" energy, they've done it with other industries and they will do it with cars too.

        These practices are common all throughout different industries in China. They have regulations designed to steal the R&D from other countries. This "end justifying the means" way of doing business is precisely what makes me angry when companies sacrifice their own country's standing in the world for more money in their bottom line.

        Sadly, there is not much to do. While the rest of the world got into ridiculous debt on wars or other crap, the chinese bought up all the debt and have them by the balls. I know that I cannot avoid buying Chinese things all the time but given the choice I prefer to do so.

        P.S. I have nothing against the chinese people, they are polite, fun, educated people.

        • 3 Years Ago
        :facepalm:

        We have a $250,000,000,000 trade IMBALANCE with China.

        So NO, we buy $325,000,000,000 worth of goods from them and they only buy $75,000,000,000 worth of stuff.

        That is a quarter of a trillion dollars leaving the US economy every year. Your state budget in the red? Is your city budget in the red? Are roads, bridges and schools in disrepair due to lack of funds? Well think of what we could do if that $250 Billion was spent back here in the US.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Hazdaz
        Actually, that's a really simplistic view of global economics. There's a lot of money flows that aren't counted as trade, so the U.S. can actually derive more income from China than they do from us even if there's a massive trade imbalance.
        For one thing a lot of the companies that export stuff to the U.S. from China are American companies, so when they ship over a $100 item you add $100 to the trade deficit but in reality most of that money is just going back to the U.S. when those companies repatriate money.
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