French carmaker Renault said on Saturday that the production of its electric car will not be delayed and vital information is safe with the company although an international syndicate may be involved in the attempted data theft, the carmaker asserted.
The alleged leak already has created a flutter with the French government issuing warning about the risks being faced by the French industry. Renault has already suspended three employees, including a member of its managing committee.
In an interview with Le Monde newspaper, CEO Patrick Pelata said: “This is the work of professionals”. Expressing the company’s helplessness, he exclaimed “Renault is the victim of an organised international network”.
The centre of controversy is an electric vehicle platform being developed by Renault with Japanese partner Nissan. The high profile development programme has already seen investment in billions of Euros.
Pelata said he does not expect critical technology findings have been leaked for which the company has already filed more than 200 patents. However, details regarding costs and economic models may have been transferred.
“It’s serious, but not as bad as if it had been the technology,” he said. “Whether it’s the chemistry of the electrodes, the structure of the batteries, the different elements of assembling, be it the charger or the engine itself, we feel ok”, said Pelata in an attempt to assuage fears of critical data theft.
“We have not lost one day to launch our four electric cars”, he said underlining that the project is right on track.
Explaining that the three employees are currently being investigated, Pelata said the company is keeping all options open, including pressing criminal charges.
“My client is now portrayed as an international spy when so far he still doesn’t have any material information explaining why Renault is accusing him”, said Thibault de Montbrial – lawyer representing Matthieu Tenenbaum – Deputy Head of electric vehicle development and one of the three accused.
“My client is now portrayed as an international spy when so far he still doesn’t have any material information explaining why Renault is accusing him”, Montbrial argued.
Government sources claimed on Friday that a possible Chinese link is being investigated. However, Industry Minister Eric Besson refused to speculate till some breakthrough is achieved and said “Renault will press charges and then the DCRI (French intelligence agency) will in all likelihood be asked to investigate.” Talking on Europe 1 radio he added “At that point we will know a lot more on the backers, beneficiaries, etc”.