Renault has revealed it is facing a serious threat to its 'strategic assets' after three senior managers were suspended on suspicion of industrial espionage.
The men are suspected of leaking details of the company's electric vehicle programme.
French industry minister Eric Beeson has also become involved, saying that his country was in danger of becoming involved in an 'economic war' and that the situation was 'serious'.
The minister also called for French industries that receive state funding to strengthen their security against such espionage.
Renault has suspended the men, one of whom is on the manufacturer's management committee, while a thorough investigation is undertaken and the employees are given the opportunity to respond to the accusations.
Heavily involved in electric research
The allegations are particularly worrying for Renault because it has invested heavily in electric vehicle research, along with its partner Nissan.
Together, the manufacturers have earmarked almost 4 billion for electric vehicle research, dwarfing that planned by its rivals.
The partnership has plans to bring eight electric vehicles to market over the coming two years and is seen as a leader in the segment.