Renault is a major French automobile and motor carrier manufacturer
Controlled by the French government, it is the country’s largest manufacturer and exporter of motor vehicles.
The Renault corporation was founded on 25 February 1899 as Société Renault Frères by Louis Renault and his brothers Marcel and Fernand. Louis was a bright, aspiring young engineer who had already designed and built several prototypes before teaming up with hisbrothers, who had honed their business skills working for their father’s textile firm. While Louis handled design and production, Marcel and Fernand managed the business.
The first Renault car, the Renault Voiturette 1CV, was sold to a friend of Louis’ father after giving him a test ride on 24 December 1898.
In 1899, Louis Renault “Driving, speed-changing mechanism and reversing gear” Louis Renault invented a revolutionary direct drive gear with no drive belt, with much better uphill performances.
In 1905 the company introduced the first of two best-selling models that were widely employed as taxicabs. These cars became famous during World War I when 600 Paris taxis were used to carry soldiers to the First Battle of the Marne.
By 1908, Renault was the largest car manufacturer in France, building around 3,500 units that year. Today, the company builds around 10,000 vehicles every single day across its various brands.
Renault modernized its premises, starting up the first production line at Billancourt in 1929. The firm tried to keep the lid on costs in order to weather the economic crisis. But social conditions deteriorated.
Early in World War II, however, the factories were brought under German control, and many were heavily damaged by Allied bombings. When Paris was liberated in 1944, the facilities that had not been destroyed were confiscated by the French government, which set up the state-controlled Régie Nationale des Usines Renault in 1945. The company then emphasized the production of popular, inexpensive family cars such as the 4CV.
In 1963, Renault 8 was the first serial car with four-wheel disc brake system.
With Renault expanding outside of France and its colonial markets, Renault is becoming eminently popular. 1964 saw the Renault 8 Gordini launch with great sporting success, and in 1972 the R5 makes its debut, going on to account for 60% of sales.
In 1979 Renault signed an agreement with American Motors Corporation that called for AMC dealers to sell Renault cars in the United States while Renault would market AMC cars in Europe. A year later Renault became the principal stockholder in AMC. In 1987, however, Renault announced that it would withdraw from the American automobile market, and the company made a buyout agreement with Chrysler Corporation. Renault acquired the heavy-truck subsidiary of Citroën, Automobiles M. Berliet, in 1974 and from 1983 held a controlling interest in Mack Trucks Inc. of the United States.
In 1990, Renault changed its status and became a public limited company with State capital. Renault’s privatization, which was discussed several times, became effective in 1996.
The Renault Clio was launched in May 1990. It was the first model that replaced numeric identifiers with nameplates. It was voted European Car of the Year and was one of Europe’s best selling cars of the 1990s. It has consistently been a huge seller, and is largely credited with restoring Renault’s reputation.
Renault is known for its role in motor sport, particularly rallying, Formula 1 and Formula E. Its early work on mathematical curve modeling for car bodies is important in the history of computer graphics.
Renault powered the winning 2010 Red Bull Racing team, and took a similar role with its old team in December 2010, when it sold its final stake to the investment group Genii Capital, the main stakeholder since December 2009, ending Renault’s direct role in running a F1 team for the second time.
Renault bought the Enstone-based team for the 2016 season, rebranding it Renault. In 2021, the team was renamed Alpine F1 Team and became part of the new Alpine business unit, with Renault retained as the engine nameplate.
Renault Trucks, previously known as Renault Véhicules Industriels, has been part of Volvo since 2001. Renault Agriculture became 100% owned by German agricultural equipment manufacturer CLAAS in 2008. Renault’s shareholding in AvtoVAZ is being divested to the Government of Russian Federation as an effect of ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Together Renault and Nissan invested €4 billion (US$5.16 billion) in eight electric vehicles over three to four years beginning in 2011. Since the launch of the Renault electric program, the group has sold more than 273,000 electric vehicles worldwide through December 2019.
The largest parade of Renault cars was 678 in an event organised by the N-GINE Renault F1 Team Show at the Poznan race track in Przezmierowo, Poland, on 17 July 2010. The race track was 4.083 km (2.53 miles) long.