Renault Electric Car Leaks Said to Pose Risk to Nissan LG Chem …

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Renault Electric Cars

Renault Electric Car Leaks Said to Pose Risk to Nissan, LG Chem Technolog

Suspected leaks of Renault SA electric-car secrets may have compromised Japanese affiliate Nissan Motor Co.’s battery blueprints, as well as designs by LG Chem Ltd. and Better Place, two people with knowledge of the matter said.

Three executives accused by the French carmaker of knowingly passing on strategic data had access to designs for Nissan and LG power packs and battery-management systems supplied by California-based Better Place, the people said. They asked not to be identified because the investigation is ongoing.

Renault has fallen victim to an “organized, international ring,” and while the carmaker believes data on vehicle architecture and costs may have been passed to foreign competitors, battery technologies appear not to have been leaked, Chief Operating Officer Patrick Pelata told Le Monde in an interview. Pelata discussed the matter at length with his Nissan counterpart Toshiyuki Shiga and “reassured him about the technology we share,” he was quoted as saying.

“We continue to be updated by Renault on their internal processes and will handle accordingly if there is any impact to Nissan,” Nissan spokesman Simon Sproule said today in an e- mailed statement.

Chinese Link

LG Chem is checking whether its technologies were compromised, said Brandon Song, a spokesman for the Seoul-based unit of LG Group. Better Place spokeswoman Julie Mullins declined to comment.

The investigation so far points to possible Chinese involvement, Bernard Carayon, a lawmaker who has advised the French government on counter-espionage policy, told Agence France-Presse yesterday. France owns about 15 percent of Renault, based in the Paris suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt.

Renault-Nissan has invested about 4 billion euros ($5.1 billion) in electric vehicles and batteries. Nissan developed batteries in a venture with NEC Corp. for the Leaf electric car and models planned by its French alliance partner, while South Korea-based LG has a contract to supply batteries to Renault to meet demand in excess of the alliance’s manufacturing capacity.

The Renault leaks show that “French companies need to protect themselves better,” Industry Minister Eric Besson said today on Europe 1 radio. “The economic war is intensifying.”

Better Place

Renault Electric Cars

Better Place. founded by former SAP AG executive Shai Agassi, is in partnership with Renault to build and operate electric-car charging networks and battery-exchanging stations in Denmark and Israel. It is not clear whether any of the Renault partners’ designs were actually leaked, the people said.

Renault said this week it had suspended three senior executives after a five-month internal investigation. Michel Balthazard, a Renault vice president in charge of long-term product development, is the highest-ranking of the three managers now awaiting a decision on permanent sanctions, two people with knowledge of the matter said Jan. 5.

Another of the suspended executives, Matthieu Tenenbaum, previously worked at Nissan before overseeing the Better Place partnership and development of four battery-powered cars as deputy head of Renault’s electric-vehicle program.

In a statement released yesterday by his lawyer, Thibault de Montbrial, Tenenbaum said he was “stunned” by his suspension and did not understand the company’s accusations.

Renault spokeswoman Caroline De Gezelle and the interior ministry declined to comment on a report in Le Figaro that France’s DCRI domestic intelligence services were probing possible Chinese involvement.

To contact the reporter on this story: Laurence Frost in Paris at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kenneth Wong at .

Renault Electric Cars
Renault Electric Cars
Renault Electric Cars
Renault Electric Cars
Renault Electric Cars
Renault Electric Cars

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