May 4, 2015 By Mike Lee
Last updated on January 7, 2019

Renault LogoBrief History About Renault

Renault was founded in 1899 in France by brothers, Louis, Marcel and Fernand Renault.

In 1903 Renault started building their own engines, got involved in motorsport and supplied cars as taxis, not just to France, but to the USA and England.

In 1905 Renault introduced mass production to reduce the cost of their vehicles.

Louis became the sole owner of Renault in 1906, due to the untimely death of Marcel in a motor racing accident in 1903 and the ill health of Fernand, that eventually took his life also in 1909.

During WW1 Renault built military vehicles/engines and made ammunition. After the WW1, the company started to also build agricultural machinery, and aircraft engines, but like many companies struggled post war. They however managed to increased their car model range and distribution network, slowly crawling back sales, until it had to sell off parts of its non car divisions in 1936.

With the advent of WW2 in 1939, Renault was forced to build military vehicles by Germany, although they refused to build tanks for them. Allied bombing eventually almost completely destroyed Renaults Billancourt factory. After WW2 the factory was rebuilt and automotive production restarted, however Louis Renault was arrested for war crimes related to collaborations with the Germans and suspiciously died shortly after incarceration in October 1944 in prison.

In 1945 with Louis Renault gone, Renault was nationalised by the French government. Sales and growth continued at a steady state during the 50’s and accelerated during the 60’s.

During the 70’s Renault launched the ever popular Renault 5, a small economical car, much needed due to the oil crisis. They also expanded further afield to capture a larger share of the global market, as well as forming partnerships with other manufacturers, including AMC and Jeep. Also during the 70’s they setup Renault Sport in 1976 (which has seen success in Rallying, Formula 1, Formula 2 and Formula 3, as well as having several of their own make racing events, such as Formula Renault). And of course they develop the Renault Sport-badged road cars.

The 1980’s were a turbulent time for Renault and they had to make cuts in several areas in order to turn the company around.

During the early 90’s Renault looked to merge with Volvo, but this never came to fruition. New models were designed and developed however as they continued to expand.
In 1996 Renault was privatised, allowing further expansion of the business, concentrating on cars and vans, while all others areas were reduced/sold off. In 1999 an alliance was signed between Renault and Nissan.

During the 2000’s they purchased Dacia and the South Korean company Samsung and more shares in Volvo. In 2010 Renault reduced its shares in Volvo and Renault and Nissan setup an alliance with Mercedes that same year. By 2012 Renault had sold its remaining shares in Volvo.

In 2017 Renault, Alpine and Nissan brought back the A110. The car was in long term development.

Renault like most car manufacturers surviving today, are constantly evolving with new technology. But they also realise that keeping their popular models in production are what keeps the buyers coming back.

Renault 5 Turbo
5 Turbo 1976-1991

Renault 21 Turbo
21 Turbo 1987-1993

Renault A610
GTA/A610 – Alpine 1986-1995

Renault Spider
Spider 1996-1999

Renault Clio Williams
Clio Williams 1993-1996

Renault Clio 172
Clio 172 2000-2004

Renault Clio 182
Clio 182 2003-2005

Renault Clio 197
Clio 197 2006-2009

Renault Clio 200
Clio 200 2009-2012

Renault Clio RS 200 Turbo
Clio RS 200 Turbo EDC 2013 on

Renault Clio V6
Clio V6 2001-2005

Renault Megane 225
Megane 225 2004-2005

Renault Megane R26
Megane R26 & R26R & 225 2006-2009

Renault Megane 250
Megane 250 2009-2012

Renault Megane 265
Megane 265, 275, 300

Alpine A110
Alpine A110 2017