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A good old-fashioned case of industrial espionage

11 January 2011 No Comment

New cars always provoke envy. And yet it is ironic that in these technology-sharing times, a good old fashioned case of industrial espionage should be in the headlines.

Renault have been working closely with Nissan on new electric vehicle technologies. But it is the French company who are now fiercely protecting their intellectual property rights. Three executives have been suspended amidst claims that material secrets may have been leaked.

The details of the case are currently as secretive as the EV technology they are seeking to protect. But we know the broader framework, as manufacturers innovate fiercely at the cutting edge of motoring design.

As governments lead manufacturers towards EV production, expensive fledgling technologies are the pride of manufacturers. And none more so than Renault, whose Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn has predicted that pure-electric vehicles will make up 10% of the global market by as soon as 2020.

Renault have been at the vanguard of development with cars like the x and the x, with favourable reviews from such real-world publications as Autocar, who were wowed in tests last year.

And with governments providing grants to manufacturers and consumers alike, there’s a lot at stake for auto manufacturers. With the credit crunch still biting, with increased VAT and continuing sky-high oil prices, competition in the industry has never been fiercer.

And with new players from emerging countries keen to get in on the act,  it is no surprise that new electric technologies should be the subject of such Bond-style espionage. We await the revelations from the Renault investigation with interest.