While an electric car called the Renault Espionage kind of has a nice ring to it, no one at the company would green light such a car now that three senior executives have been suspended after a months-long investigation over suspected industrial spying, Reuters is reporting. The company has confirmed the suspensions, but is not commenting on the case, saying instead that an "ethical alert" was submitted in August 2010 and that the executives, including one from Renault's management committee, were suspended Monday. An unnamed source told Reuters that, "It involves people who were caught red-handed for industrial espionage. It's a matter that has lasted several months already."
Renault has announced four electric vehicle models that are in production or scheduled to be in the coming years – the Twizy, the Zoe, the Fluence and the Kangoo (pictured above, left to right) – and this case does bring up questions about the viability of that plan. The Renault spokesperson told Reuters that, "Renault is a victim in this story. The group is a bit worried about its electric vehicle programme – it hopes that its leadership in this technology won't be threatened." Right now, there is no direct connection to Nissan, Renault's alliance partner, on the spy issue, but the companies do work together on electric vehicles, so what affects one might affect the other.