Renault SA is expected to take legal action against three of its top managers as a company secret disclosure scandal erupts. Apparently the information leakage involves the electric-vehicle technology, thus relating Japanese partner Nissan to the matter, not to mention the French state which owns 15% of Renault.
Renault and Nissan, both headed by CEO Carlos Ghosn, are involved in a five billion dollar partnership concerning the production of electric cars, as Renault intends to introduce four models to the market within the next two years.
According to Ghosn, in ten years electric cars will represent 10% of the overall global automobile sales, so the competition for the technology is quite rough. “The expression ‘economic war’- sometimes excessive- is appropriate here,” said French Industry Minister Eric Besson, related to the Renault incident.
A Nissan official who declined to be named made the following statement: “Whatever they leaked, i’s ours. They don’t have their own lithium-ion battery technology. We serve all of their supplier of battery cells and packs.”
Although Renault officials maintain a certain law enforced discretion on the matter and would not name the accused, the three suspended managers are Michael Balthazar, management committee member in charge of the new-car development; Bertrand Rochette, in charge of the electric vehicle research and Matthieu Tenenbaum, deputy director of Renaul’s electric vehicle program. Officials haven’t announced any criminal inquiry yet.
The general interest into the affair is great, as the electric car is expected to ultimately replace the combustion engine car. This is only held back by the still expensive and inefficient batteries, which are the key to successful electric vehicles. So the struggle for the technological edge remains fierce.