Besson Says Renault Espionage is 'Economic War'

French Industry Minister Eric Besson on Thursday warned the country was facing "economic war" following an industrial espionage scandal at automaker Renault.

"Unfortunately, the affair appears serious," Besson said on RTL radio, after discussing the issue with Renault management.

"The expression 'economic war', while sometimes outrageous, for once is appropriate," he said, calling for improvements in industrial security at companies who receive public money.

"It appears to concern the electric car, but I do not want to go further," said Besson.

Renault said Wednesday it had suspended three managers for leaking secrets about electric cars, with the company staking its future on environmentally friendly vehicles and aiming to produce them for the general market.