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BMW spying for EV knowledge? Image by BMW.

BMW spying for EV knowledge?
French car-sharing firm accuses BMW of trying to steal its EV secrets.
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When one thinks of espionage or the spies that engage in it one may envisage a suave 007 schmoozing some leggy blonde while sipping on a vodka Martini (shaken not stirred), but spying has gotten a lot of press recently what with the NSA's electronic eavesdropping and Edward Snowden's whistle-blowing and subsequent evasion of the US authorities.

It would seem that car manufacturers are not adverse to a bit of espionage either, if you believe the complaint from French firm Bollore against German giant BMW.

Bollore operates France's successful EV car-sharing scheme (think Go Car only with custom Pininfarina designed electric cars), which has over 100,000 clients to date and will soon expand to the US. The firm's fleet of Bluecars uses lithium-metal-polymer technology in the construction of its batteries, rather than the more common lithium ion units used by most car makers, as well as advanced geo-location systems to track the fleet and allow customers to book their nearest car.

Bollore accuses BMW of using spies to gather information on this technology after two employees from consultancy firm P3 were seen tampering with charging points and Bluecars parked on a Paris street. On the first occasion the 'spies' stated they worked for a German car maker, but declined to name which one. They were driving a German-plated BMW, however. Bollore staff were unable to keep up with the men after spotting them a second time (insert joke about EV being unable to keep up with a BMW here) and after seeing them a third time the authorities were called with both men detained and arrested.

For its part BMW says the 'spies' were working towards the introduction of the i3 city car - the Bavarian company's long anticipated EV:

"Within the scope of the impending market launch of the BMW i3, BMW conducted tests throughout Europe to assess the compatibility of BMW electric vehicles with the publicly accessible charging stations of the various providers. These tests serve solely to identify the infrastructure of those operators with whom electric vehicles can be charged in future."

BMW denies that it was conducting tests on September 5, which is when the technicians were detained by police.

Anything else?

Ok so it's not exactly Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, but the news that Bollore has recently signed a deal with Renault that will see future ZEs use the lithium-metal-polymer batteries certainly spices things up.

Paul Healy - 25 Sep 2013

2013 BMW i3. Image by BMW.2013 BMW i3. Image by BMW.2013 BMW i3. Image by BMW.2013 BMW i3. Image by BMW.2013 BMW i3. Image by BMW.

2013 BMW i3. Image by BMW.2013 BMW i3. Image by BMW.2013 BMW i3. Image by BMW.2013 BMW i3. Image by BMW.2013 BMW i3. Image by BMW.    - BMW road tests
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