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BMW Sued for Industrial Espionage by France’s Bolloré Group

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The French group that operates Paris’ electric car sharing scheme Autolib’ has filed a criminal complaint against BMW, accusing the German carmaker of industrial espionage.

Bolloré Group, which is one of the most important industrial conglomerates in France, said BMW used spies to gather information on its electric cars, which are co-developed with Pininfarina.

Bolloré said two employees of a company working for BMW were seen three times tampering with charging points and Autolib’ vehicles parked in Paris. A spokesman for Autolib’ told news agency AFP that the company is not aware of what type of information the alleged spies have been able to gather or the technologies they have used.

"All we can say is that Bolloré is ahead in several technologies in which we have invested a lot of money, including the battery and the geo-location system," Autolib' spokesman Jules Varin said.

BMW responded that the two workers were employed by engineering firm P3 to prepare the launch for the BMW i3 EV and that they were “conducting routine tests carried out across Europe to check the compatibility of charging points on public roads.”

The two men were found tampering with a Bolloré Bluecar on August 21 in a charging point in Paris’ 9th district. Autolib’ staff questioned them and they replied they worked for a German carmaker. They didn’t specify the name of the company, but were driving a BMW car with German plates. They were spotted again the next day at another charging point, but Autolib’ staff could not catch them. However, on September 5 they were apprehended in the 7th district and arrested.

BMW said they had ordered the tests the two were seen doing in the first two cases, but not on the day they were arrested. In separate news, Bolloré is said to have reached an agreement with Renault that would allow the carmaker to use its charging stations and batteries, as well as Bolloré's lithium-metal-polymer technology to design a vehicle.

By Dan Mihalascu

Story References: Reuters

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