Renault suspects Chinese role in spy case: report

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French automaker Renault suspects that top managers suspended for alleged industrial espionage were supplying details of the company's electric cars to China, a newspaper reported on Friday.

The daily Le Figaro cited "several internal sources" at the company anonymously as saying that the company and the French secret service suspected Chinese involvement in the affair.

Renault declined to comment on the report.

The company said Wednesday it had suspended the three top managers and company sources told AFP they were suspected of leaking secrets about the electric cars, on which the company is staking its future.

Renault said on Thursday that its "strategic, intellectual and technological assets" had been targeted but did not indicate who might have benefitted from the alleged spying.

France's Industry Minister Eric Besson said Thursday the country was the target of "economic war".

Renault and its Japanese partner Nissan plan to launch several electric models by 2014 to meet the rapidly rising demand for more environmentally friendly methods of transport.

© 2011 AFP

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