Now I confess I’ve been a bit sceptical about the concept of electric vehicles and whether they really will be the transport of the future. The cynic in me wonders whether this is just a way for the car manufacturers to be seen to doing something, even if they didn’t believe it would provide a long-term solution to reducing carbon emissions from cars. However, with the news that Renault has suspended three of its senior managers after some of its electric vehicle secrets were leaked, maybe I should take it a bit more seriously.
Renault, together with its partner Nissan, has invested heavily in electric technology and the company plans to launch a number of electric models over the next few years. Other car manufacturers, such as General Motors and Toyota, are targeting hybrid vehicles which use both a petrol engine and electric power as the way forward but Renault is firmly behind all-electric vehicles. It is now concerned, though, that its work in developing electric technology has been compromised as a result of these leaks.
The suspension of the three high-ranking executives came after a four month investigation by the company. The exact details of the technology remain secret but it is thought that they are to do with the batteries for electric vehicles. One of the limiting factors in the development of electric vehicles is the range that they can travel on a single charge. Any development which could significantly increase this would be of huge significance. There is speculation that the secrets been passed to China, which has the second largest deposits of lithium, a key component in long-life batteries.
China is hoping to become a world leader in electric vehicles over the next decade and any breakthrough that Renault might have made regarding long-life batteries will be of huge interest to any rival. Because of the Chinese involvement, the situation is being regarded as a threat to European economic interests rather than just a case of industrial espionage, with the result that the French equivalent of MI5, the DCRI, has been brought in to investigate.
Maybe I should take the idea of electric cars a little more seriously…Author's Google+ Page