Icky Leak
January 6, 2011 7:49 PM   Subscribe

The French government today said it was the victim of an "economic war" after Renault, the partially state-owned car maker, suspended three top executives over suspected leaks of secret electric car technology. The French industry minister, Eric Besson, told French radio: "The expression 'economic war', while often outrageous, is for once appropriate here." He said the case illustrated "the risks our companies face in terms of industrial espionage, and economic intelligence".
posted by infini (28 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Renault will release its first battery-powered electric cars this year, the Fluence and the Kangoo Express.

Seriously? Also I heard france was really paranoid about industrial espionage, like they'll actually check laptops, etc for stolen industrial docs at the border.
posted by delmoi at 7:53 PM on January 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


France's car industry directly or indirectly employs 10% of the active population and is crucial to its economy

Is 10% of France really employed to make Renault and Citroen cars?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:55 PM on January 6, 2011


I honestly thought Renault was long gone.
posted by R. Mutt at 8:00 PM on January 6, 2011


...like ten, twenty years gone.
posted by R. Mutt at 8:03 PM on January 6, 2011


Top Gear tests the Renault Sport Twingo 133:
Part 1
Part 2
posted by the painkiller at 8:18 PM on January 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


France has been known in the past to use its equivalent of the CIA to perform industrial espionage, so it's not surprising that they would react this way when it is done to them.

I am really curious as to who was doing the spying (not the guys they caught, but who they were working for).
posted by eye of newt at 8:21 PM on January 6, 2011


Renault just stopped selling in the US market after their partner American Motors got bought out by Chrysler, they've been selling cars in Europe all along.
posted by octothorpe at 8:22 PM on January 6, 2011


Isn't stealing French Technology akin to say stealing English Cuisine or Italian Politicians? Who on earth has the motive for such a thing?
posted by boubelium at 8:37 PM on January 6, 2011


My gf and I have a Renault Clio. If there were an AWD variant, and it were available in the US, I would have one here. These are really small, but comfortable cars - yet unlike cars like the Honda Fit they're perfectly comfortable and fun doing 83 mph (130 kph - speed limit on French autoroutes) all day long.

That said, the French are very very interested in industrial espionage, and I call this hypocrisy. When I had a security clearance one of the places I had to report travel to was France. This is some time ago, and those with recent clearances may have more up-to-date information.
posted by jet_silver at 8:38 PM on January 6, 2011


Is 10% of France really employed to make Renault and Citroen cars?

No; a lot of the people are employed indirectly, by parts makers and steel mills, for instance. The French car industry is large: in 2007 they made 4.8% of all personal cars, which made them the 6th largest producer, not that far behind the US (7.4%) and South Korea (7.0%). There are also cars made in France by foreign companies, like Toyota or Daimler.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 8:42 PM on January 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


France's secretive international spy agency, the DGSE, is recruiting hundreds of people and getting a budget boost, despite frugal times, to better fend off threats like terrorism and nuclear proliferation. France's answer to the CIA is buffing its image as well, with its first-ever spokesman and a new website.
posted by infini at 8:42 PM on January 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


France has been known in the past to use its equivalent of the CIA to perform industrial espionage, so it's not surprising that they would react this way when it is done to them.

vauge.

the 'reaction'.
I give the the top notch
The Direction de la Surveillance du Territoire surly they would not.
posted by clavdivs at 8:46 PM on January 6, 2011


'Sub-directorate of Gaming and casinos'
those folks gotta love thier job.

posted by clavdivs at 8:49 PM on January 6, 2011


Direction centrale des renseignements généraux.
'Sub-directorate of Analysis, prospective and society facts'

love the French.

posted by clavdivs at 8:55 PM on January 6, 2011


Icky Leaks

"Ici l'eaks", shurely.
posted by No-sword at 9:01 PM on January 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I had a Renault Alliance in 1995.
It was the greatest car in the world for almost a year.
Then the dashboard clock broke.
This must have somehow sent a signal car wide to all the other mechanical parts, for they all started to breakdown in order, 5 days apart.
It was almost admirable the way that thing slowly took it's own life, imploding like a slow motion version of the house at the end of Poltergeist
In the end, I abandoned it on a city street rather than pay the parking fine.
But for those 11 months, that was one hell of a zippy ride.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 9:01 PM on January 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Can someone who understand car company "alliances" explain whether Renault is just using Nissan electric vehicle tech or not. If so, I'm having a hard time seeing Japanese technology being a French state secret. If not, why wouldn't they?
posted by thecjm at 9:17 PM on January 6, 2011


Isn't stealing French Technology akin to say stealing English Cuisine or Italian Politicians? Who on earth has the motive for such a thing?

Ask Nissan Motors. It's 43% owned by Renault, and in turn owns 15% of Renault shares. I think they know a thing or two about cars.

*hugs Scenic* I wuv you baby - even if you have a known transmission solenoid defect that cost me a grand to fix.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 9:24 PM on January 6, 2011


A link might have helped there:

Nissan alliance with Renault
posted by obiwanwasabi at 9:26 PM on January 6, 2011


A link on French industrial espionage.
posted by eye of newt at 9:36 PM on January 6, 2011


> Isn't stealing French Technology akin to say stealing English Cuisine or Italian Politicians?

I'd rather have any than your view of the world.
posted by vbfg at 2:37 AM on January 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


> Isn't stealing French Technology akin to say stealing English Cuisine or Italian Politicians?

I'd rather have any than your view of the world.


Yeah, those sneaky foreigners! amirite?
posted by LiteOpera at 3:05 AM on January 7, 2011


Yes, this should be put into the context of the Renault-Nissan alliance. Renault and Nissan share the same CEO (Carlos Ghosn) and some executives, technical teams and platforms. It's one the top automobile makers after Toyota, GM, VW and Ford. It's also pretty big in emerging markets through the Dacia brand. One of the fired executives had been working at Nissan and Samsung motors (Renault subsidiary in Korea) before moving back to France as the deputy director of the Electric Vehicle Program.
Some people are already pointing fingers at China apparently. FWIW, in 2005, a Chinese trainee working for Valeo (a major automotive components manufacturer) had been accused of industrial spying, which led to some paranoia about the numerous Chinese students in France. She was eventually cleared of the spying charges (though convicted of breach of trust).
posted by elgilito at 3:27 AM on January 7, 2011


She was eventually cleared of the spying charges (though convicted of breach of trust).

What does this mean, I don't understand? Can someone explain please? Wouldn't she have breached trust with the spying?
posted by infini at 3:32 AM on January 7, 2011


Infini: to convict her of spying would require proof that she was in the employ of some entity for the purposes of stealing the data, or that she intended to sell the data to someone. If they couldn't prove that, then taking the data home without permission would make her guilty of a lesser offense, breach of trust.
posted by 1adam12 at 4:43 AM on January 7, 2011


Thanks for the clarification, 1adam12. This makes me glad I've always kept a sharp eye on IP ownership issues from the beginning, got very lucky with a good lawyer in SF.
posted by infini at 4:49 AM on January 7, 2011


a Chinese trainee working for Valeo

I hope these sorts of incidents don't get too common. After google, I'm a little afraid of a backlash against Chinese emigrants in the tech sector. Further proof of the difficulties of a multi-national information economy, some states will just steal it.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 5:45 AM on January 7, 2011


Isn't stealing French Technology akin to say stealing English Cuisine or Italian Politicians?
Like most casual racism, this has little basis in fact. French technology is advanced and is in exactly the areas a country like China would find interesting. See the scandal about China stealing awesome French high speed train technology.

Never mind that England has amazing food that I miss every day or that Italy is responsible for my favorite politician of all time.
posted by w0mbat at 8:31 AM on January 7, 2011


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