Renault-Nissan boss denies spy scandal was about technology

The boss of Renault-Nissan spoke out yesterday for the first time about allegations of industrial spying on his company's rapid advances in electric cars which shook the French-Japanese car giant this month.

Carlos Ghosn said that the espionage concerned the "economic model" of Renault's plans to dominate a $2,000bn world market in electric cars from next year. No specific technical secrets had been leaked, he said.

His comments – contradicting earlier hints that unpatented, technical advances may have been sold to China – will add to the confusion surrounding the Renault spy scandal. Lawyers representing three senior Renault executives, suspended earlier this month, say that there is no evidence they took money for handing over company secrets. They have started counter-actions for "defamation".

Renault-Nissan président-directeur général Mr Ghosn rejected suggestions that Renault had bungled the investigation by approaching a private detective rather than the French security services.

He refused to comment on suggestions - angrily denied by Beijing - that the leaks were inspired by economic interests in China. But he also rejected suggestions in the French press that the whole affair may have been an elaborate dirty-trick, mounted by unknown rivals, to throw doubt on innocent men and sabotage Renault's accelerating electric car programme.

"The target was our whole electric car strategy," he told the Journal du Dimanche. "There was total scepticism when we launched the programme in 2006. Now we are the only company in the world to manufacture, at the same time, electric car engines, the batteries and charging equipment. In an extremely competitive global industry, worth $2,000 billion, we naturally attract the interest of our competitors..."

Renault, with its Japanese partner Nissan, has invested over €4bn in trying to develop new generations of all-electric cars to match the price and performance of internal-combustion vehicles. Several models were unveiled at the Frankfurt motor show last year but the leaked secrets were said to concern a new generation of vehicles expected to enter the market in 2012-13.

According to the French press, they included unpatented advances in electric car engines and batteries.

But Mr Ghosn insisted yesterday that no "technical information" had leaked. The espionage concerned "our economic model", he said. Renault officials told the Journal du Dimanche that this embraced the costs and probable prices of electric cars and batteries, sales forecasts and production targets. Three senior Renault executives were suspended on 5 January. The company has started legal proceedings against "person unknown" for "industrial espionage, corruption, theft, receiving stolen goods and conspiracy".

Renault officials say that the affair began with an anonymous tip-off in a letter last August. A private detective and two company investigators were asked to start an inquiry.

Renault officials and lawyers say they identified off-shore bank accounts in Switzerland and Liechtenstein belonging to the three company executives with payments allegedly divided between the three men.

All three have angrily dismissed the accusations and brought counter-actions for defamation and calumny.

Arts and Entertainment
Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones
tvSeries 5, Episode 3 review
News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

    £26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

    Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

    £24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

    Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

    £22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

    Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

    £16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

    Day In a Page

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence