Business

Renault's Pelata loses job in electric car secrets case

Patrick Pelata
Image caption Mr Pelata had his resignation as chief operating officer accepted by Renault

Renault's chief operating officer Patrick Pelata has resigned, but will remain within the group, following an industrial espionage scandal.

Three executives from the group's security service will leave the French car-maker, which is 15% state-owned.

Meanwhile, compensation will be paid to another three executives who were wrongly fired over the affair.

It comes after investigations into the theft of the electric car technology, which was first detected last August.

Another trio of top executives will be relieved of their duties while their fate is decided, Renault added.

Renault accepted Mr Pelata's resignation at an extraordinary board meeting on Monday to discuss the findings of an audit into the matter.

"The audits thus evidenced the chain of failings and dysfunctions within the company, particularly as regards the supervision and control of the group security department," a Renault statement said.

French embarassment

"It has proven very embarrassing," said David Leggett, the editor of Just-Auto.com, in an interview with BBC World Service.

Image caption Renault and its partner Nissan have invested extensively in electric vehicle technology

"The allegations were made, they worked on whatever evidence they felt they had to work on internally, unfortunately for Renault's top management the allegations were ill-founded."

Commenting on the cosy relationships within the French elite, Mr Leggett said: "I think it does tell us a little bit about the way French corporate culture works and the role of the government."

"We've had French Government ministers making public pronouncements about this whole issue and perhaps over-stepping the mark just a little bit," he said.

'Solid job'

Mr Pelata joined Renault in 1984 and joined the management committee in 1998.

"Pelata as chief operating officer did a solid job of guiding Renault through the last few years," said Morgan Stanley analyst Stuart Pearson.

"It's not immediately obvious who could replace him."

Car manufacturing is an important part of the French economy, and a major employer.

One of the biggest advantages that Western carmakers have is their advanced technology, which enables them to compete against cheaper labour costs outside Europe.

The carmaker, alongside its partner Nissan, has invested some $4bn (£2.46bn) in electric vehicle technology.

Both plan to launch a number of new electric vehicles over the next two years.

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