Groupe Renault France is a multinational automobile producer established in 1899. The company deals in the range of cars and vans, and in the past has manufactured trucks, tractors, tanks, buses/coaches and autorail vehicles. In 2015, according to the Organisation Internationale des Constructeurs d’Automobiles, Renault was the tenth biggest automaker in the world. Renault group is made up of the namesake Renault marque and subsidiaries, Alpine, Automobile Dacia from Romania, Renault Samsung Motors from South Korea, and AvtoVAZ from Russia.
Renault also owns subsidiaries RCI Banque, Renault Retail Group, and Motrio. Since 2001, Renault Truck has been part of Volvo Trucks. Previously Renault Trucks known as Renault Véhicules Industriels. 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.
25 February 1899; 118 years ago
Louis Renault, Marcel Renault, Fernand Renault
During its early years, Renault only produces the car’s’ chassis, while the bodywork was in charge of coachbuilders. The first car with Renault’s bodywork was the “Taxi de la Marne” which was introduced in 1905. In the 1930s, Renault developed streamlined cars as the Viva Grand Sport. In the 1950s the company worked with Ghia designers. With the assistance of the independent designer Philippe Charbonneaux the company created Renault Styling as a design department, in 1961. Le Quément was responsible for bold designs such as the Mégane II and the Vel Satis giving Renault a more coherent and stylish image. Technocentre became the main Renault’s engineering facility in 1998. The Renault Technocentre is the main research and development facility. The Technocentre gathers more than 8000 employees, and comprises three main sections, The Advance Precinct, The Hive and the prototype build centre.
In 2014, two Renault models were among the most numerous on British roads, the Clio and the Mégane. The first Renaults to sustain sales in the UK were the Renault 5 and Renault 18. In March 1991, Renault enjoyed greater popularity with the arrival of the Clio supermini. Renault introduced the Mégane in April 1996 to steady sales. In 1998, Mégane became the Britain’s sixth-best selling car and the second most popular in its sector. In 2006 Renault was Britain’s third most popular brand, surpassed only by Ford and Vauxhall. Also, in the end of 2014 Renault launched the third generation Twingo.
The Renault corporation was founded in 1899 as Société Renault Frères by Louis Renault and his brothers Marcel and Fernand. 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. Renault began to manufacture its engines in the year 1903. The first major volume sale came in 1905 when Société des Automobiles de Place bought Renault AG1 cars to establish a fleet of taxis. These vehicles were later used by the French military to transport troops during World War I which earned them the nickname “Taxi de la Marne.” In 1907 and 1908, Renault was the best-selling foreign brand in New York. Renault made itself known through succeeding in the first city-to-city races held in Switzerland, producing rapid sales growth.
In 1903, Marcel was killed in an accident and Fernand died in 1909 then Louis became the sole owner. Renault manufactured buses and commercial cargo vehicles in the pre-war years. In 1906, first real commercial truck from the company was introduced. During World War I, it branched out into ammunition, military aircraft engines and vehicles such as the revolutionary Renault FT tank.In 1918, Louis Renault enlarged Renault’s scope and started producing agricultural and industrial machinery.
Between 1919 to 1930, the first Renault Tractor, Type GP, was produced. The pre-First World War cars had a distinctive front shape caused by positioning the radiator behind the engine to give a so-called “coalscuttle” bonnet. Only in 1930 did all models place the radiator at the front. The bonnet badge changed from circular to the familiar and continuing diamond shape in 1925. Renault offered eight body styles. The larger chassis were available to coachbuilders. The smaller were the most popular while the least produced was the 18/24cv.
In 1929, a 8-cylinder Reinastella was introduced and expanded to a range culminating in the 1939 Suprastella. Renault was one of the few French vehicle manufactures that pursued the production of aircraft engines after World War I. In the late 1920s it attempted to produce a high-power military engine to compete with the American Pratt & Whitney units, which proved unsuccessful, although its civil engines achieved better results. During the late 1920s and early 1930s, Renault was surpassed by Citroën as the largest car manufacturer in France.
In January 1972, company’s compact and economical Renault 5 model was launched. Throughout the 1970s the R4, R5, R6, R12, R15, R16 and R17 maintained Renault’s production with new models including the Renault 18 and Renault 20. Over the decades Renault had developed a collaborative partnership with Nash Motors Rambler and its successor American Motors Corporation (AMC). From 1962 to 1967, Renault assembled complete knock down (CKD) kits of the Rambler Classic sedans in its factory in Belgium.
Later, Renault continued to make and sell a hybrid of AMC’s Rambler American and Rambler Classic called the Renault Torino in Argentina. When Peugeot acquired Citroën and formed PSA, the group’s collaboration with Renault was reduced, although established joint production projects were maintained. So, prior its merging with Peugeot, Citroën sold to Renault the truck and bus manufacturer Berliet in 1975.Renault partnered with American Motors, lending AMC operating capital and buying a minority 22.5% stake in the company in late 1979.
The partnership resulted in the marketing of Jeep vehicles in Europe. The Jeep XJ Cherokee may have been a joint AMC/Renault project, since some early sketches of the XJ series were made in collaboration by Renault and AMC engineers. The Jeep also used wheels and seats from Renault. The XJC Cherokee concept which was conceived in 1983 as a successor to the XJ series was also a joint collaboration with AMC and Renault engineers until the design was inherited by the Chrysler Corporation in late 1987. In the late seventies and early eighties Renault increased its involvement in motorsport, with novel inventions such as turbochargers in their Formula One cars.
The company’s road car designs were revolutionary in other ways also – the Renault Espace was one of the first minivans and was to remain the most well-known minivan in Europe for the next two decades.
Subsidiaries of Renault
In February 2008 Renault acquired a 25% share in AvtoVAZ, known for its Lada range of vehicles. In 2005, Renault began off and on in talks with AvtoVAZ. Renault initially insisting that CKD assemble Logans at its facilities, while VAZ intended to keep its own Lada brand and sought only a new platform and engine. Also, after several rounds of talks, interrupted by VAZ’s attempts to ally with Fiat and Magna, Renault agreed to the partnership under terms similar to its Nissan deal. Following a AvtoVAZ recapitalisation in 2016, Renault holds over 50% of the company, making it a subsidiary.
Also, in 1999, Renault acquired a 51% controlling stake from the Romanian-based manufacturer Automobile Dacia, which increased to 99.43%. So, as part of the Renault group, Dacia is a regional marque of entry-levels cars focused on Europe and Northern Africa which shares various models with the Renault marque.
Renault Samsung Motors
On 1 September, Renault acquired the car division of Samsung in a $560 million deal for 70% of the company. Renault Samsung Motors is a marque used almost exclusively in South Korea. The majority of the company’s production at its Busan plant is exported under the Renault badge.