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Renault S.A.
Société anonyme
Traded asEuronextRNO
Founded25 February 1899
FounderLouis Renault, Marcel Renault, Fernand Renault
HeadquartersBoulogne-Billancourt, France
Area served
Worldwide (118 countries)
Key people
Carlos Ghosn (Chairman and CEO)
ProductsAutomobiles, commercial vehicles, Luxury Cars, financing
Production output
Increase 2,708,206 (2013)[1]
RevenueDecrease €40.932 billion (2013)[2]
Decrease €-34 million (2013)[2]
ProfitDecrease €695 million (2013)[2]
Total assetsDecrease €74.99 billion (end 2013)[2]
Total equityDecrease €23.21 billion (end 2013)[2]
OwnerAPE (15.01%)
Nissan Finance Co., Ltd.(15%)
Daimler AG (3.1%)[3]
Number of employees
127,086 (December 2012)[1]
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For other uses, see Renault (disambiguation).
Renault S.A.
Société anonyme
Traded asEuronextRNO
Founded25 February 1899
FounderLouis Renault, Marcel Renault, Fernand Renault
HeadquartersBoulogne-Billancourt, France
Area served
Worldwide (118 countries)
Key people
Carlos Ghosn (Chairman and CEO)
ProductsAutomobiles, commercial vehicles, Luxury Cars, financing
Production output
Increase 2,708,206 (2013)[1]
RevenueDecrease €40.932 billion (2013)[2]
Decrease €-34 million (2013)[2]
ProfitDecrease €695 million (2013)[2]
Total assetsDecrease €74.99 billion (end 2013)[2]
Total equityDecrease €23.21 billion (end 2013)[2]
OwnerAPE (15.01%)
Nissan Finance Co., Ltd.(15%)
Daimler AG (3.1%)[3]
Number of employees
127,086 (December 2012)[1]
Renault has twelve F1 Championships wins as engine manufacturer in Formula One.[5] Nigel Mansell, Damon Hill, Michael Schumacher, Alain Prost, Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel and Jacques Villeneuve won eleven F1 driver's titles with cars powered by Renault engines

Renault S.A. (French pronunciation: [ʁəno], re-noh) is a French multinational vehicle manufacturer established in 1899. The company produces a range of cars and vans, and in the past, trucks, tractors, tanks, buses/coaches and autorail vehicles. In 2011, Renault was the third biggest European automaker by production behind Volkswagen Group and PSA and the ninth biggest automaker in the world by production in 2011.[6] The company's core market is Europe.[7]

Headquartered in Boulogne-Billancourt, the Renault group is formed by the namesake Renault marque and subsidiaries Automobile Dacia from Romania and Renault Samsung Motors from South Korea.[8] Renault has a 43.4% controlling stake in Nissan of Japan,[9] a 25% stake in AvtoVAZ of Russia and a 1.55% stake in Daimler AG of Germany. Renault also owns subsidiaries RCI Banque (providing automotive financing), Renault Retail Group (automotive distribution) and Motrio (automotive parts). Renault Trucks, previously Renault Véhicules Industriels, has been part of Volvo Trucks since 2001. Renault Agriculture became 100% owned by German agricultural equipment manufacturer CLAAS in 2008. Renault has various joint ventures, including Turkish Oyak-Renault, Iranian Renault Pars, Chinese Dongfeng Renault. Carlos Ghosn is the current chairman and CEO and the French government owns a 15% share of Renault.[10]

As part of the Renault–Nissan Alliance, the company is the fourth-largest automotive group.[11] Together Renault and Nissan are undertaking significant electric car development, investing €4 billion (US$5.16 billion) in eight electric vehicles over three to four years from 2011.[10]


Foundation and early years (1898–1918)[edit]

The Renault corporation was founded in 1899 as Société Renault Frères by Louis Renault and his brothers Marcel and Fernand.[12][13] Louis was a bright, aspiring young engineer who had already designed and built several models before teaming up with his brothers, who had honed their business skills working for their father's textiles firm. While Louis handled design and production, Marcel and Fernand handled company management.[14]

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. The client was so impressed with the way the tiny car ran and how it climbed the streets that he bought it.

In 1903, Renault began to manufacture its own engines; until then it had been purchasing them from De Dion-Bouton. The first major sale was in 1905 to the Société des Automobiles de Place, which bought Renault AG1 cars to establish a fleet of taxis.[15] These vehicles would eventually be used by the French military for transporting troops during World War I which earned them be known as "Taxi de la Marne."[16] By 1907, a significant percentage of the taxis circulating in London and Paris had been built by Renault.[15] Renault also was the most sold foreign marque at New York in 1907 and 1908.[17] In 1908 the company produced 3,575 units, becoming the largest car manufacturer in France.[15]

The brothers recognised the publicity that could be obtained for their vehicles by participation in motor racing and Renault made itself known through achieving instant success in the first city-to-city races held in Switzerland resulting in rapid expansion for the company. Both Louis and Marcel Renault raced company vehicles, but Marcel was killed in an accident during the 1903 Paris-Madrid race.[18] Although Louis Renault never raced again, his company remained very involved, including Ferenc Szisz winning the first Grand Prix motor racing event[19] in a Renault AK 90CV in 1906. Louis was to take full control of the company as the only remaining brother in 1906 when Fernand retired for health reasons.[14] Fernand died in 1909 and Louis became the sole owner, renaming the company Société des Automobiles Renault (Renault Automobile Company).[12][15]

The Renault reputation for innovation was fostered from very early on. At the time, cars were very much luxury items, and the price of the smallest Renaults available being 3000 francs reflected this; an amount it would take ten years for the average worker at the time to earn. In 1905 the company introduced mass-production techniques, and Taylorism in 1913.[20] As well as cars and taxis, Renault manufactured buses and commercial cargo vehicles in the pre-war years. The first real commercial truck from the company was introduced in 1906.[21] During World War I, it branched out into ammunition, military airplanes[15] and vehicles such as the revolutionary Renault FT tank.[20] The company's military designs were so successful that Renault himself was awarded the Legion of Honour for his company's contributions to the war.[22] The company also exported their engines overseas to American auto manufacturers for use in such automobiles as the GJG which used a Renault 26 hp or 40 hp four-cylinder engine.[23]

Between the world wars (1919–1938)[edit]

Berline Renault Celtaquatre de 1935

Louis Renault enlarged the scope of his company after 1918, producing agricultural and industrial machinery. A number of the new products emerged from war developments.[24] The first Renault's tractor, the Type GP produced between 1919 and 1930, was based on the FT tank.[25] However, Renault struggled to compete with the increasingly popular small, affordable "people's cars", while problems with the stock market and the workforce also adversely affected the company's growth. Renault also had to find a way to distribute its vehicles more efficiently. In 1920, he signed one of its first distribution contracts with Gustave Gueudet, an entrepreneur from northern France.

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. This continued through the 1920s[26] and it was not until 1930 that all models had the radiator at the front. The bonnet badge changed from circular to the familiar and continuing diamond shape in 1925. Renault models were introduced at the Paris Motor Show which was held in September or October of the year. This has led to a slight confusion as to vehicle identification. For example a "1927" model was mostly produced in 1928.

Renault produced a range of cars from small to very large. For example in 1928, when Renault produced 45,809 cars, the range of seven models started with a 6cv, a 10cv, the Monasix, 15cv, the Vivasix, the 18/22cv and the 40cv. There was a range of factory bodies, of up to eight styles, and the larger chassis were available to coachbuilders. The number of a model produced varied with size. The smaller were the most popular with the least produced being the 18/24cv. The most expensive factory body style in each range was the closed car. Roadsters and tourers (torpedoes) were the cheapest.

The London operation was very important to Renault in 1928. The UK market was quite large and from there "colonial" modified vehicles were dispatched. Lifted suspensions, enhanced cooling and special bodies were common on vehicles sold to the colonies. Exports to the USA by 1928 had almost reduced to zero from their high point prior to WW1 when to ship back a Grand Renault or similar high class European manufactured car was common. A NM 40cv Tourer had a USA list price of over $4,600 being about the same as a Cadillac V-12. Closed 7-seat limousines started at $6,000 which was more expensive than a Cadillac V-16.

The whole range was conservatively engineered and built. The newly introduced 1927 Vivasix, model PG1, was sold as the "executive sports" model. Lighter weight factory steel bodies powered by a 3180 cc six-cylinder motor provided a formula that went through to the Second World War.

The "de Grand Luxe Renaults", that is any with over 12-foot (3.7 m) wheelbase, were produced in very small numbers in two major types – six- and eight-cylinder. The 1927 six-cylinder Grand Renault models NM, PI and PZ introduced the new three spring rear suspension that considerably aided road holding that was needed as with some body styles over 90 mph (140 km/h) was possible. The 8-cylinder Reinastella was introduced in 1929. This model led on to a range culminating in the 1939 Suprastella. Coachbuilders included Kellner, Labourdette, J. Rothschild et Fils and Renault bodies. Closed car Renault bodies were often trimmed and interior wood work completed by Rothschild.

Renault also introduced in 1928 an upgraded specification to the larger cars designated "Stella". The Vivastella's and Grand Renaults had upgraded interior fittings and had a small star fitted above the front hood Renault diamond. This proved to be a winning marketing differentiator and in the 1930s all cars changed to the Stella suffix from the previous two alpha character model identifiers.

The Grand Renaults were built using a considerable amount of aluminium. Engines, brakes, transmissions, floor and running boards and all external body panels were aluminium. Of the few that were built, many went to scrap to aid the war effort.

In 1931, Renault introduced diesel engines for its commercial vehicles.[21]

Renault was one of the few French vehicle manufactures that pursued the production of aircraft engines after World War I. During the 1920s it tried to develop an engine capable of competing with the more powerful models of Pratt & Whitney, which proved unsuccessful.[27] In the 1930s the company took over the aircraft manufacturer Caudron,[27] focusing its production in small airplanes, acquired a stake in Air France and partnered to establish the airmail company Air-Bleu.[28] Renault continued developing tanks as part of France's rearming effort, including the D1 and the FT's replacement, the R 35.[29]

During the late 1920s and early 1930s, Renault was surpassed by Citroën as the largest car manufacturer in France. Citroën models at the time were more innovative and popular than Renault's.[30] However, by mid-1930s the French manufacturers were hit by the Great Depression. Renault could initially offset losses through its tractor, railroad and weaponry businesses while Citroën filed for bankruptcy and was later acquired by Michelin.[28] Renault became again the largest car manufacturer, a position it would keep until the 1980s.[28]

Renault was finally affected by the economic crisis in 1936. The company sold Caudron and spun off its foundry and aircraft engine divisions into related but autonomous operations, keeping its core automotive business.[28] Between 1936 and 1938, a series of labour disputes, strikes, and worker unrest spread throughout the French automobile industry.[31] The disputes were eventually quashed by Renault in a particularly intransigent way, and over 2,000 people lost their job.[31][32]

World War II and aftermath (1939–1944)[edit]

After the French capitulation in 1940, Louis Renault refused to produce tanks for Nazi Germany, which took control of his factories. He produced lorries for the German occupiers instead. On 3 March 1942, the RAF launched 235 low-level bombers at the Billancourt plant, the largest number of aircraft aimed at a single target during the war.[33] 460 tons of bombs were dropped on the plant and the surrounding area, causing extensive damage to the plant along with heavy civilian casualties.[34] Renault resolved to rebuild the factory as quickly as possible, but a further heavy bombardment a year later, on 4 April, this time delivered by the Americans, caused further damage, as did subsequent allied bombardments on 3 and 15 September 1943.[34]

A few weeks after the Liberation of Paris, at the start of September 1944, the factory gates at Renault’s Billancourt plant reopened.[34] Operations restarted only very slowly, in an atmosphere poisoned by plotting and political conspiracy, undertaken in the name of popular justice.[34] Back in 1936 the Billancourt factory had been at the heart of violent political and industrial unrest that had surfaced in France under Leon Blum’s Popular Front government: although the political jostling and violence that followed the liberation was ostensibly a backlash from the rivalries between capitalist collaboration and communist resistance, many of the scores being settled actually predated the German invasion.[34] Responding to the chaotic situation at Renault, on 27 September 1944 a meeting of the Council of (the provisional government's) Ministers took place under de Gaulle’s presidency. Postwar European politics had quickly become polarised between communists and anti-communists, and in France De Gaulle was keen to resist Communist Party attempts to monopolise the political dividends available to resistance heroes: politically Billancourt was a communist stronghold. The government decided to "requisition" the Renault factories.[34] A week later, on 4 October Pierre Lefaucheux, a resistance leader with a background in engineering and top-level management, was appointed provisional administrator of the firm, assuming his responsibilities at once.[34]

Meanwhile the provisional government accused Louis Renault of collaborating with the Germans. In the frenzied atmosphere of those early post-liberation days, with many wild accusations against him, but believing himself innocent of the crimes of collaboration, Renault was advised by his lawyers not to flee the country, but to present himself to a judge. He presented himself to Judge Marcel Martin, on 22 September 1944.[34] Louis Renault was arrested on 23 September 1944, like several other French auto-industry leaders at the time.[34] Renault's harsh handling of the 1936–1938 strikes had left him without political allies in those early days after the liberation; thus he was completely isolated and no one came to his aid.[35] He was incarcerated at Fresnes prison where he died on 24 October 1944 under unclear circumstances,[36] while awaiting trial.[37][38]

On 1 January 1945, by decree of General Charles de Gaulle based on the untried[36] accusations of collaboration, the company was expropriated from Louis Renault posthumously and on 16 January 1945 it was formally nationalised as Régie Nationale des Usines Renault.[34] Renault's were the only factories permanently expropriated by the French government.[39] In subsequent years, the Renault family tried to have the nationalisation ruling overturned by the French courts and receive compensation. In 1945 and 1961 the Courts responded that they had no authority to review the actions of the De Gaulle Government.[35]

1964 Renault R8 Gordini was the first sportive compact car for a public consumption price.[40]

Postwar resurgence (1945–1971)[edit]

Under the leadership of Pierre Lefaucheux, Renault experienced both a commercial resurgence as well as labor unrest – that was ultimately to continue into the 1980s.

In secrecy during the war, Louis Renault had developed the rear engine 4CV[41] which was subsequently launched under Lefacheux in 1946. Renault debuted its flagship model, the largely conventional 2-litre 4-cylinder Renault Frégate (1951–1960), shortly thereafter. The 4CV proved itself a capable rival for cars such as the Morris Minor and Volkswagen Beetle; its sales of more than half a million ensured its production until 1961.

After the success of the 4CV, Lefacheux continued to defy the postwar French Ministry of Industrial Production, which had wanted to convert Renault solely to truck manufacture,[42] by directing the development of its successor. He oversaw the prototyping of the Dauphine (until his death) – enlisting the help of artist Paule Marrot in pioneering the company's textile and color division.

The Dauphine sold extremely well as the company expanded production and sales further abroad, including Africa and North America. The Dauphine sold well initially in the US, where it subsequently became outdated against increased competition, including from the country's nascent domestic compacts such as the Chevrolet Corvair.

During the 1950s, Renault absorbed small French heavy vehicles' manufacturers (Somua and Latil) and in 1955 merged them with its own truck and bus division to form the Société Anonyme de Véhicules Industriels et d'Equipements Mécaniques (Saviem).[43]

Renault subsequently launched two cars which became very successful – the Renault 4 (1961–1992), a practical competitor for the likes of the Citroën 2CV, and Renault 8.[24] The larger rear-engined Renault 10 followed the success of the R8, and was the last of the rear-engined Renaults. The company achieved success with the more modern and more upmarket Renault 16, a pioneering hatchback launched in 1966, followed by the smaller Renault 6.

On 16 January 1970 the manufacturer celebrated the 25th anniversary of its 1945 rebirth as the newly nationalised Régie Nationale des Usines Renault. The 1960s had been a decade of aggressive growth for France's largest auto-maker: a few months earlier, in October 1969, the manufacturer had launched the Renault 12, combining most of the engineering philosophy of its market-defining hatch-backs with the more conservative "three-box" design which many buyers continued to prefer. The four-door Renault 12 model slotted into the Renault range between the Renault 6 and Renault 16. The model was a success, and 1970 was also the first year ever during which Renault produced more than a million cars in a single year, the actual figure being 1,055,803.[44]

Modern era (1972–1980)[edit]

The company's compact and economical Renault 5 model, launched in January 1972,[45] was another success, particularly in the wake of the 1973 energy crisis.[24] Throughout the 1970s the R4, R5, R6, R12, R15, R16 and R17 maintained Renault's production with further new models launches including the Renault 18 and Renault 20.

Endangered like all of the motor industry by the energy crisis, during the mid seventies the already expansive company diversified further into other industries and continued to expand globally, including into South East Asia. The energy crisis also provoked Renault's attempt to reconquer the North American market; despite the Dauphine's success in the United States in the late 1950s, and an unsuccessful car-assembly project in Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville, Quebec, (1964–72), Renault as a stand-alone brand, began to disappear from North America at the end of the 1970s.

Throughout the decades Renault 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.[46] Renault did not have large or luxury cars in its product line and the "Rambler Renault" would be aimed as an alternative to the Mercedes-Benz "Fintail" cars. Later, Renault would continue to make and sell a hybrid of AMC's Rambler American and Rambler Classic called the Renault Torino in Argentina (sold through IKA-Renault). Renault partnered with AMC on other projects, such as development of a rotary concept engine in the late 1960s.

Renault 5 Turbo

This was one of a series of collaborative ventures undertaken by Renault in the late 1960s and 1970s, as the company established subsidiaries in Eastern Europe, most notably Dacia in Romania, and South America (many of which remain active to the present day) and forged technological cooperation agreements with Volvo and Peugeot, the latter signed in 1966[47] (for instance, for the development of the PRV V6 engine, which was used in Renault 30, Peugeot 604, and Volvo 260 in the late 1970s).

In the mid-1960s an Australian arm, Renault Australia, was set up in Heidelberg, Melbourne, the company would produce and assemble models from the R8, R10, R12, R16, sporty R15, R17 coupe's to the R18 and R20, soon the company would close in 1981. Renault Australia did not just concentrate on Renaults, they also built and marketed Peugeots as well. From 1977, they assembled Ford Cortina station wagons under contract- the loss of this contract led to the closure of the factory.[citation needed]

1974 Renault 15 coupe

When Peugeot acquired Citroën and formed PSA, the group's collaboration with Renault was reduced, although already established joint production projects were maintained. As part of Citroën reorganisation prior to its merging with Peugeot, Renault purchased from them the truck and bus manufacturer Berliet in 1975,[47] merging it with its subsidiary Saviem in 1978 to create Renault Véhicules Industriels, which became the only French manufacturer of heavy commercial vehicles.[21][43] In 1976, Renault reorganised the company into four business areas which were automobiles (for car and light commercial vehicles or LCVs), finance and services, commercial vehicles (coaches and trucks over 2.5 tons GVW), and other minor operations under an industrial enterprises division (farm machinery, plastics, foundry, etc.). In 1980, Renault produced 2,053,677 cars and LCVs (the cars at the time were the Renault 4, 5, 6, 7, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20 and 30; the LCVs were the 4, 5 and 12 Société and the Estafette), and 54,086 buses/coaches and trucks.[47]

In North America, Renault formed a partnership with American Motors, lending AMC operating capital and buying a minority 22.5% stake in the company in late 1979. The first Renault model sold through AMC's dealerships was the R5, renamed Renault Le Car. Jeep was keeping AMC afloat until new products, particularly the XJ Cherokee, could be launched. When the bottom fell out of the 4×4 truck market in early 1980 AMC was in danger of going bankrupt. To protect its investment, Renault bailed AMC out with a big cash influx – at the price of a controlling interest in the company of 47.5%.[48] Renault quickly replaced some top AMC executives with their own people.[24]

The Renault–AMC partnership also resulted in the marketing of Jeep vehicles in Europe.[24] Some consider the Jeep XJ Cherokee as a joint AMC/Renault project since some early sketches of the XJ series were made in collaboration by Renault and AMC engineers (AMC insisted that the XJ Cherokee was designed by AMC personnel; however, a former Renault engineer designed the Quadra-Link front suspension for the XJ series).[citation needed] The Jeep also used wheels and seats from Renault. Part of AMC's overall strategy when the partnership was first discussed was to save manufacturing cost by using Renault sourced parts when practical, and some engineering expertise. This led to the improvement of the venerable AMC in-line six – a Renault/Bendix-based port electronic fuel injection system (usually called Renix) that transformed it into a modern, competitive powerplant with a jump from 110 hp (82 kW) to 177 hp (132 kW) with less displacement (from 4.2L to 4.0L).

The Renault-AMC marketing effort in passenger cars was not as successful compared to the popularity for Jeep vehicles. This was because by the time the Renault range was ready to become established in the American market, the second energy crisis was over, taking with it much of the trend for economical, compact cars. One exception was the Renault Alliance (an Americanised version of the Renault 9), which debuted for the 1983 model year. Assembled at AMC's plant in Kenosha, Wisconsin,[48] the Alliance received Motor Trend's domestic Car of The Year award in 1983. The Alliance's 72% U.S. content allowed it to qualify as a domestic vehicle, making it the first car with a foreign nameplate to win the award since the magazine established a separate Import Car of The Year prize in 1976. (In 2000, Motor Trend did away with separate awards for domestic and imported vehicles.)

Renault sold some interesting models in the U.S. in the 1980s, especially the simple-looking but fun Renault Alliance GTA and GTA convertible – an automatic-top convertible with a 2.0 L engine – big for a car of its class; and the ahead-of-its-time Renault Fuego coupe. The Alliance was followed by the Encore (U.S. version of the Renault 11), an Alliance-based hatchback.[48] In 1982 Renault become the second European automaker to build cars in the United States, after Volkswagen. However, Renault's Wisconsin-built and imported models quickly became the target of customer complaints for poor quality, and sales plummeted.

Eventually, Renault sold AMC to Chrysler in 1987 after the assassination of Renault’s chairman, Georges Besse.[24] The Renault Medallion (Renault 21 in Europe) sedan and wagon was sold from 1987 to 1989 through Jeep-Eagle dealerships. Jeep-Eagle was the new division Chrysler created out of the former American Motors. However, Renault products were no longer imported into the United States after 1989. A completely new full-sized 4-door sedan, the Eagle Premier, was developed during the partnership between AMC and Renault. The Premier design, as well as its state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Bramalea, Ontario, Canada, were the starting point for the sleek LH sedans such as the Eagle Vision and Chrysler 300M.

In early 1979, as part of its attempts to expand into the American market, Renault bought a 20% minority stake in the truck manufacturer Mack Trucks.[49] The aim of this operation was to make use of the extensive delearship network of the company to distribute light trucks.[50] In 1983, Renault increased its stake in Mack Trucks to 44.6%.[49][50] In 1987, it transferred the ownership of a 42% stake to Renault Véhicules Industriels.[51]

In the late seventies and early eighties Renault increased its involvement in motorsport, with novel inventions such as turbochargers in their Formula One cars. Renault's head of engines, Georges Douin, orchestrated the installation of turbocharged engines across much of the Renault range beginning in 1980. 10% of all turbocharged cars built in Europe in 1984 were Renaults.[52] 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 at least the next two decades. The second-generation Renault 5, the European Car of the Year-winning Renault 9, and the most luxurious Renault yet, the aerodynamic 25 were all released in the early 1980s, building Renault's reputation, but at the same time the company suffered from poor product quality which reflected badly in the image of the brand and the ill-fated Renault 14 is seen by many as the culmination of these problems in the early 1980s.

1984 Renault Espace, the first European multi-purpose vehicle
Renault Twingo popularized the city car in Europe from 1992. Six years later, most of its rivals began to enter the city car market.

Restructuring (1981–1995)[edit]

Although its cars were somewhat successful both on the road and on the track, including the 1984 launch of the Espace – Europe's first multi-purpose vehicle, a dozen of years before any concurrent – Renault was losing a billion francs a month and reported a deficit of 12.5 billion in 1984. The government intervened and Georges Besse was installed as chairman; he set about cutting costs dramatically, selling off many of Renault's non-core assets (including a minority Volvo stake, Gitane, Eurocar and Renix), withdrawing almost entirely from motorsports, and laying off many employees.[53] This succeeded in halving the deficit by 1986, but he was murdered by the communist terrorist group Action Directe in November 1986. He was replaced by Raymond Lévy, who continued along the same lines as Besse, slimming down the company considerably with the result that by the end of 1987 it was more or less financially stable.

The Renault 9, a small four-door family saloon, was voted European Car of the Year on its 1981 launch. It sold well in France, but was eventually eclipsed by the Renault 11 hatchback version, as the hatchback bodystyle became more popular on this size of car. The Renault 5 entered its second generation in 1984 and continued to sell well. The long-running Renault 18 was replaced by the Renault 21 early in 1986, with the traditional saloon being joined by a seven-seater estate badged as the Nevada or Savanna depending on where it was sold. Renault's top of the range model in the 1980s was the Renault 25, launched at the end of 1983.

In 1990, Renault strengthened its collaboration with Volvo by signing an agreement which allowed both companies to reduce vehicle conception costs and purchasing expenses. Renault had access to Volvo expertise in upper market segments and in return Volvo could take advantage of Renault designs for low and medium segments. In 1993 the two companies announced their intention to merge operations by 1 January 1994 and both increased their cross-shareholding. While in France the idea of merging was reluctantly accepted, in Sweden the opposition was outspoken and the Volvo shareholders rejected it.[53]

A revitalised Renault launched several successful new cars in the early 1990s, aligned with an improved marketing effort on European markets,[53] including the 5 replacement, the Clio in May 1990.[24] The Clio is the first new model of a generation which will see the numeric models replaced by new cars with traditional nameplates. The Clio was voted European Car of the Year soon after its launch, and was one of Europe's best selling cars in the 1990s, proving even more popular than its hugely successful predecessor. Other important launches included the second-generation Espace in 1996 and the innovative Twingo in 1992, the first car to be marketed as a city car MPV. The Twingo was also roomier than any of the cars of this size range before. Twingo sales reached 2.4 million in Europe, yet, the original Twingo was only built for left-hand drive markets, so not many examples reached the British market - second in volume in Europe - as personal imports.

Renault Scenic, awarded Car of the year in Europe in 1997 and the first[54] car to be marketed as a compact MPV, is the most popular MPV in Europe for 20 years.[54]
2013 Renault Clio IV, 5 doors or estate, named European Car of the Year in 2006
The Renault Captur is the best seller SUV in Europe[55] since its first commercialization month in 2013.[56]
2015 Renault Espace V, a crossover mixing elements of SUVs and MPVs

Privatisation and the alliance era (1996–present)[edit]

It was eventually decided that the company's state-owned status was detrimental to its growth. By 1994, following the failed Renault-Volvo merger, plans to sell shares to public investors were officially announced.[53] The company was privatised in 1996.[24] This new freedom allowed the company to venture once again into Eastern Europe and South America, including a new factory in Brazil and upgrades for the infrastructure in Argentina and Turkey. In December 1996 General Motors Europe and Renault begun to collaborate in the development of LCVs, starting with the second generation Trafic (codenamed X83).[57]

The financial problems of Renault were not all fixed by the privatisation, however, and the Renault's President, Louis Schweitzer gave to his then deputy, Carlos Ghosn, the task of confronting them. Ghosn elaborated a plan to cut costs for the period 1998–2000, reducing the workforce, revising production processes, standardising vehicle parts and pushing the launching of new models. The company also undertook organisational changes, introducing worldwide a lean production system with delegate responsibilities inspired by Japanese systems (the "Renault Production Way"), reforming work methods and creating a centralised research and development facility, the Technocentre, to reduce vehicle conception costs while accelerating such conception.[53]

After Volvo exit, Renault searched for a new partner to cope with an industry that was consolidating and talks with BMW, Mitsubishi, Nissan, PSA and others were held. When Nissan's negotiations with Daimler stalled, the Japanese company agreed to associate with Renault.[58] Signed on 27 March 1999, the Renault–Nissan Alliance is the first of its kind involving a Japanese and a French company, each with its own distinct corporate culture and marque identity, linked through cross-shareholding. Renault initially acquired a 36.8% stake at a cost of US$3.5 billion in Nissan, while Nissan in turn has a 15% stake (non-voting) in Renault. Renault continued to operate as a stand-alone company, but with the intent to collaborate with its alliance partner to reduce costs in developing new products. In the same year Renault bought 51% majority stake of the Romanian company Dacia,[59] thus returning after 30 years, in which time the Romanians built over 2 million cars, which primarily consisted of local version of Renaults 8, 12 and 20. In 2000, Renault acquired a controlling stake of the South Korean Samsung Group's automotive division.[60]

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Renault sold various assets to finance its inversions and acquisitions,[61] refocusing itself as a car and van manufacturer. In 1999, the company sold its industrial automation subsidiary, Renault Automation, to Comau and its engine parts division to TWR Engine Components.[61] In 2001, Renault also sold its 50% stake in bus/coach manufacturer Irisbus to co-owner Iveco and its logistics subsidiary CAT France to Global Automotive Logistics.[61] Following the sale of the Renault Véhicules Industriels truck and bus division to Volvo in 2001, the company retained a minority (but controlling) stake (20%) in the Volvo Group (Volvo passenger cars are now a subsidiary of the Zhejiang Geely Holding Group). In 2010 Renault reduced its participation to 6.5% and in December 2012 sold its remaining shares.[62] In 2004, Renault sold a 51% majority stake in its agricultural machinery division, Renault Agriculture, to CLAAS. In 2006, CLAAS increased its ownership to 80% and in 2008 took full control.[63]

In the twenty-first century, Renault was to foster a reputation for distinctive, outlandish design. The second generation of the Laguna and Mégane featured ambitious, angular designs which turned out to be successful, with the 2000 Laguna being the first European family car to feature "keyless" entry and ignition.[citation needed] Less successful were the company's more upmarket models. The Avantime, a bizarre coupé / multi-purpose vehicle, sold very poorly and was quickly discontinued while the luxury Vel Satis model did not sell as well as hoped. However, the design inspired the lines of the second-generation Mégane, the most successful car of the maker. As well as its distinctive styling, Renault was to become known for its car safety. The Laguna was the first car ever to achieve a 5-star rating; [64] in 2004 the Modus was the first to achieve this rating in its category.[citation needed]

In April 2010, Renault-Nissan announced a new alliance with Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler with Renault supplying Mercedes-Benz with its brand new 1.6 L turbodiesel engine and Mercedes-Benz to provide a 2.0 L four-cylinder petrol engine to Renault-Nissan.[65] The resulting new alliance is to also develop a new model to replace the Smart with a new model based on the Renault Twingo.[66]

In February 2010, Renault opened a new production factory near Tangier, Morocco, with an annual output capacity of 170,000 vehicles.[67] Initially, it manufactured the new Dacia Lodgy and Dacia Dokker models and, starting from October 2013,[68] the second generation Dacia Sandero, the output capacity being increased to 340,000 vehicles per year with the inauguration of this second production line.[69] The site is located in a dedicated free trade area, neighboring the Tanger Automotive City, an industrial platform focused on automotive business.[70] According to Renault, the new factory emits zero carbon and industrial liquid discharges.[71] Over 100,000 vehicles were produced there in 2013, and Renault expects to eventually increase production at the Tangier plant to 400,000 vehicles per year, according to a report by the Committee of French Automobile Manufacturers.[72]

In December 2012 the Algeria's National Investment Fund (FNI), the Société Nationale de Véhicules Industriels (SNVI), and Renault signed an agreement to establish a factory near the city of Oran, Algeria, with the aim of manufacturing Symbol units by 2014. The production output was estimated in 25,000 vehicles. The Algerian State will have a 51% stake in the facilities' property.[73][74]

Corporate governance[edit]

Renault is administered through a Board of Directors, an Executive Committee and a Management Committee.[75] As of May 2014, members of the 19-seat board are, among others, Carlos Ghosn, Alain J. P. Belda, Charles de Croisset, Thierry Desmarest, Yuriko Koike, Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière, Franck Riboud and Pascale Sourisse.[76] The Executive Committee is composed by Ghosn, Thierry Bolloré (Chief Competitive Officer), Marie-Françoise Damesin (Executive Vice President, Human Resources), Jose-Vicente De Los Mozos Obispo (Executive Vice President Manufacturing and Supply-Chain), Gaspar Gascon Abellan (Executive Vice President Engineering), Philippe Klein (Executive Vice President, Product Planning, Programs), Stefan Mueller (Executive Vice President, Chairman of Europe region), Mouna Sepehri (Executive Vice President, Office of the CEO), Jérôme Stoll (Executive Vice President, Chief Performance Officer) and Dominique Thormann (Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, Chairman and CEO, RCI Banque).[77] The Management Committee is composed by the members of the Executive. There are five regional management committees which focus on certain geographic areas.[75]

Head office[edit]

Renault head office, 13-15 quai le Gallo, Boulogne-Billancourt, France

Renault's head office is in Boulogne-Billancourt.[78] The head office is located near the old Renault factories; Renault has maintained a historical presence in Boulogne-Billancourt,[79] as the historic Boulogne-Billancourt plant had Renault's activity since 1898.[78]

Products and technologies[edit]

Current models[edit]

Current model line up, with calendar year of introduction or facelift:[80]

Commercial vehicles[edit]

Renault SA ceased manufacturing large goods vehicles by 2004 when it sold its truck and military divisions to Volvo in 2001 (but still sold under the Renault Trucks name) and its bus and tram business to Irisbus in 1999. Renault's agricultural division was sold to CLAAS in 2004.

Concept cars[edit]

Renault Kangoo Z.E. Concept

Renault has displayed numerous concept cars to show future design and technology directions. Since 2008 Renault displayed various all-electric car concepts under the name "Z.E.", starting with a concept based on the Renault Kangoo Be Bop. Further concepts and announcements followed, with a pledge to start production of the Fluence Z.E. saloon in 2011 and the Renault Zoe in 2012.

Renault also revealed the Ondelios hybrid concept in 2008.[81][82] but this was overtaken by the Z.E. programme. However, Renault presented a new hybrid car in September 2014, the Eolab, which incorporates various innovations that the company said will be added to production models by 2020.[83]

In 2014 at the New Delhi Auto Show, Renault announced a new model, the KWID Concept, which comes with its own helicopter drone.[84]

Electric vehicle partnerships[edit]

Renault Twizy used for pizza delivery being recharged in Münster, Germany.

From 2008, Renault entered a number of agreements for its planned zero-emissions products, including Israel, Portugal, Denmark, the U.S. states of Tennessee and Oregon,[85] Yokohama in Japan and the Principality of Monaco.[86] Serge Yoccoz is the electric vehicle project director.[87]

In 2008, Renault-Nissan signed a deal to mass-produce electric cars for an initiative in Israel with Better Place, a US company developing new non-petroleum–based transport infrastructure. Renault aimed to mass market 10,000 to 20,000 cars a year in Israel.[88] Renault would also develop exchangeable batteries for the project.[89] Renault also collaborated with Better Place to produce a network of all-electric vehicles and thousands of charging stations in Denmark, planned to be operational by 2011.[90] The Renault Fluence Z.E.,[91] was selected for the Israel project, being the first zero-emission vehicle with a switchable battery,[92] with trials in 2010 undertaken with the Renault Laguna. Renault ended the partnership in 2013, following Better Place's bankruptcy, with only 1000 vehicle sales in Israel and 240 in Denmark.[93]

Renault-Nissan and the largest French electric utility, Electricite de France (EDF) signed an agreement to promote emission-free mobility in France. The partnership planned to pilot projects on battery management and charging infrastructure.[94] Renault-Nissan also signed deals with Ireland's ESB,[95] and in Milton Keynes as part of the UK's Plugged in Places national project.[96]

According to Ghosn, the Renault-Nissan alliance was a fundamental step in electric car development, and that although the two companies alone could produce an electric car, they both need each other for other issues like battery manufacturing, electric vehicle charging infrastructure, and business strategy.[97]

The Renault-Nissan group is a member of the PHEV Research Center.

In September 2013, Renault and Bolloré announced an agreement to collaborate in a new electric vehicle and in car-sharing development.[98]


Renault introduced a new line of eco-friendly derivatives in 2007 marked eco² based on normal production cars. A minimum of 5% recycled plastic was used and at the end of the vehicles life the remains are 95% reusable. Eco²'s CO2 emissions were not to exceed 140g/km, or are biofuel compatible.[99] At the 2008 Fleet World Honours, Renault was rewarded with the Environment Award. The chairman of Judges, George Emmerson, commented, “This was the most hotly contested category in the history of the Fleet World Honours, such is the clamour for organizations’ green credentials to be recognised. There were some very impressive entries, but the panel felt that Renault’s impressive range of low-emission vehicles was the most tangible, and the most quantifiable.[100]

Autonomous vehicles[edit]

Renault projects to introduce autonomous vehicle technology by 2020. The company unveiled a prototype, the Next Two (based on the Zoe), in February 2014.[101]

Vehicle conception[edit]


During its early years, Renault only manufactured the cars' chassis, the bodywork was in charge of coachbuilders. The first car with Renault's optional bodywork was the "Taxi de la Marne" introduced in 1905.[102] Most Renault-made bodyworks were simple and utilitarian until the Reinastella unveiling in 1928. In the 1930s, Renault developed streamlined cars as the Viva Grand Sport. In the 1950s the company worked with Ghia designers.[103]

In 1961, with the assistance of the independent designer Philippe Charbonneaux (responsible of the R8), was created Renault Styling as a department for design dependent on Engineering, led by Gaston Juchet since 1963.[103][104] In 1975, Robert Opron was named chief designer[104] and Renault Styling was divided into three sub-departments: Interior, Exterior and Advanced Design. The following years saw the introduction of a number of relevant cars for the marque, including the Fuego and the 11.[102]

In 1987, Renault hired Patrick le Quément as chief designer[105] and created the Industrial Design Department to replace Renault Styling. The new division incorporated a new, more complex, management system, with a great increment in technologies and personnel. Renault gave it the same importance as Engineering and Product Planning, making it to participate in product development.[102][104] Le Quément was responsible of bold designs such as the Mégane II and the Vel Satis,[106] giving Renault a more coherent and stylish image.[107] In 1995, Design and Quality were merged under le Quément direction.[102][105] Later, the new department was moved to Guyancourt's Technocentre, which also became the base for Engineering and Product Planning. Design was divided into three sections: Automobile Design; Truck, LCV and Bus Design; and Concept Cars and Advanced Design. During the next years were created satellite centres in Spain (1999), Paris (2000), South Korea (2003), Romania (2007), India (2007)[102][104] and Brazil (2008).[108]

At the end of 2009, le Quément was replaced by Laurens van den Acker,[105] which introduced the "cycle of life" concept to Renault's design.[109]

Engineering and Product Planning[edit]

View of the Technocentre from the Jardin des Gogottes.

Most of Renault engineering was decentralised until 1998, when the Technocentre became the main Renault's engineering facility.[53][110] Satellite centres exist, including: Renault Technologies Americas (with branches in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Mexico), Renault Technologies Romania (branches in Morocco, Russia, Slovenia and Turkey) and Renault Technologies Spain (branch in Portugal).[111] As of 2013, Renault's engineering section has over 6500 employees world-wide, of which 34% are engineers and 63% technicians.[112] The engines' development is in charge of a specific division, Renault Powertrains, which employs nearly 65 engineers.[113]

As of 2014 Engineering and Product Planning are directed by Gaspar Gascon Abellan[114] and Philippe Klein[115] respectively.


The Renault Technocentre (French pronunciation: ​[ʁəno tɛknɔˈsɑ̃tʁ])) is the main research and development facility of Renault. It is located in Guyancourt and its construction was completed in 1998. It covers an area of 150 hectares[116] and integrates all departments involved in developing new products and industrial processes (design, engineering, product planning) as well as representatives of suppliers. The Technocentre gathers more than 8000 employees[117] and comprises three main sections: The Advance Precinct, The Hive and the prototype build centre. The Advance Precinct, a stepped structure surrounded by a lake, has design studios and other departments related to the early conception stages as well as administrative and reception areas. The Hive is the tallest structure, and includes research and engineering facilities dedicated to complete the development process of new vehicles. The prototype build centre is an extension of The Hive. The three main structures are combined with smaller technical buildings.[110]

The Technocentre was one of the first enterprises to have real-time life-size 3D modelling systems.[118]

Renault Tech[edit]

Renault Tech is a division of Renault Sport Technologies, headquartered in Les Ulis. It was established in 2008 and is in charge of modifying cars and vans for special purposes (transporting people with reduced mobility, driving school cars, business fleets).[119][120]

Subsidiaries and alliances[edit]


Renault has a 43.4% stake in Nissan, and Nissan holds a 15% stake (with no voting rights) in Renault, thereby giving it effective control. Renault has a 50% stake in the joint venture Renault-Nissan b.v., which was established to manage synergies in the Renault-Nissan alliance. The company is responsible for the management of two joint companies, RNPO (Renault Nissan Purchasing Organization) and RNIS (Renault-Nissan Information Services).[121] Combined vehicle sales in 2008 reached 6.9 million (including AvtoVAZ), making the Renault-Nissan Alliance the world’s third-largest automotive group.[122]

As well as sharing a number of engines in the alliance and joint-development of zero-emissions technology, Nissan increased its presence in Europe by badging various Renault van models such as the Renault Kangoo/Nissan Kubistar, Renault Master/Nissan Interstar, Renault Trafic/Nissan Primastar. Some passenger cars have also been badged-engineered, such as the Renault Clio-based Nissan Platina in Brazil. The "Renault Production System" standard used by all Renault factories borrowed extensively from the "Nissan Production Way" and has resulted in Renault productivity improving by 15%. The alliance has led to the loss of 21,000 jobs, the closure of three assembly plants and two powertrain plants.[123]

In March 2010 the Renault-Nissan alliance opened its first joint facility in Chennai, India, investing 45 billion rupees (US$991.1 million).[124] The facility builds the Nissan Micra, and the Renault Fluence and Renault Koleos are intended to be assembled there from completely knocked-down units. As a result of opening its own factory, Renault ended its five-year Mahindra Renault joint venture with Mahindra & Mahindra company to make and sell the Renault Logan in India.[125]

Renault-Nissan and Daimler alliance[edit]

On 7 April 2010 Renault-Nissan executive, Carlos Ghosn and Daimler AG executive, Dieter Zetsche announced a partnership between the three companies in a joint press conference.[126] Under the terms of a deal, Daimler acquired a 3.1 per cent stake in Renault-Nissan and Renault and Nissan each take a 1.55 per cent stake in Daimler.[127]

Renault-Nissan and Mitsubishi collaboration[edit]

On 5 November 2013 Nissan and Mitsubishi agreed to include Renault and the Renault-Nissan Alliance in its long-term partnership. Renault will provide to Mitsubishi two saloons developed by the former and made at the Busan's Renault Samsung Motors facility. There are also plans to exchange electric vehicle technology between the three companies.[128][129]


Main article: Automobile Dacia

In 1999, Renault acquired a 51% controlling stake from the Romanian-based manufacturer Automobile Dacia, which increased during the next three years to a 99.3% stake[59] and subsequently to the present 99.43%.[130] 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.[9]

Renault Samsung Motors[edit]

Renault acquired the car division of Samsung on 1 September 2000 in a $560 million deal for 70% of the company,[131] eventually rising its stake to 80.1%.[132] Renault Samsung Motors is a marque used almost exclusively in South Korea (although some models are also sold in Chile). The majority of the company production at its Busan plant is exported under the Renault badge.[133]


Main article: AvtoVAZ

In February 2008 Renault acquired a 25% share in AvtoVAZ, known for its Lada range of vehicles.[134] For a long time needing to modernise its technology, VAZ was seeking a strategic partnership since the late nineties. Its owners tried to form an alliance with various foreign auto manufacturers, such as General Motors. However, most of these attempts weren't successful and generally fell through.

Renault was in talks with AvtoVAZ on and off since 2005, initially insisting on CKD assembly of Logan cars with its facilities, while VAZ intended to keep its own Lada brand and only wished to acquire a new platform and engine. After several rounds of talks, between which VAZ also sought alliance with Fiat and Magna, Renault agreed to the partnership under terms not unlike the earlier Nissan deal. Renault and Rosoboronexport, the state corporation that is a major stockholder of VAZ, discussed Renault increasing its stake in VAZ to 50%.[135]

RCI Banque[edit]

Main article: RCI Banque

RCI Banque is a wholly owned Renault's subsidiary which provides financial services for the Renault marques (worldwide) and the Nissan marques (in Europe, Russia and South America).[136][137]

Renault Retail Group[edit]

Renault Retail Group is Renault's wholly owned automobile distributor for Europe.[138] Since its inception, Renault developed a retail network. In 1997, the French branches were merged to establish the subsidiary Renault France Automobiles (RFA). In 2001, it served as the basis for Renault Europe Automobiles (REA), which was created to manage sales in Europe.[139] In 2008, the company adopted its current name.[140] Renault Retail Group operates in France, Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.[138]

Manufacturing subsidiaries[edit]

French factories[edit]

Manufacturing subsidiaries outside France[edit]

Proposed alliances[edit]

On 30 June 2006, the media reported that General Motors convened an emergency board meeting to discuss a proposal by shareholder Kirk Kerkorian to form an alliance between GM and Renault-Nissan. The hastily arranged meeting suggests that GM's board was treating Kerkorian's proposal with urgency. There was speculation that a GM–Renault–Nissan alliance could pave the way for Renault's return to the U.S. market. However, GM CEO Richard Wagoner felt that an alliance would benefit Renault's shareholders more than those of GM, and that GM should receive some compensation for it. This did not sit well with Renault; subsequently, talks between GM and Renault ended on 4 October 2006.

In 2007 Renault-Nissan were in talks with Indian manufacturer Bajaj Auto to develop a new ultra-low-cost car along the lines of the Tata Nano.[153] Renault's existing partner in India, Mahindra, was not interested in taking part in the project despite already manufacturing the Dacia Logan. The proposed deal for a split of the joint venture (50% Bajaj and 25% each for Renault and Nissan) did not come to fruition, when in late 2009 it was announced that Bajaj would develop and manufacturer the vehicle itself and supply Renault-Nissan with completed cars.[154]

On 7 October 2008, the Wall Street Journal reported that a Renault executive said the company was interested in acquiring or partnering with Chrysler, which at the time was owned by the private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management.[155] On 11 October 2008, the New York Times reported that General Motors, Nissan and Renault had all been in discussions over the past month with Cerberus about acquiring Chrysler.[156] Chrysler was eventually acquired by, and became a wholly owned subsidiary of, the Italian automotive company Fiat.[157]


1907 Renault-built Replica of their French Grand Prix winner, one of 4 known to exist
Renault Megane II F1 team Edition
Main article: Renault Sport
Main article: Formula Renault

Renault has taken part in motorsport since the beginning of the 20th century, promoted by Marcel Renault's racing interests, and over the years has acquired companies with a sporting connection such as Gordini and Alpine. In the seventies, Renault set up a dedicated motorsport division called Renault Sport, and won the Le Mans 24 Hours with the Renault Alpine A442 in 1978. Renault has achieved success in both rallying and in Formula One over several decades. The company backs several one-make single-seater series such as Formula Renault, and World Series by Renault.

Formula One[edit]

Fernando Alonso driving for Renault F1 at Indianapolis in 2005, the year in which the team won their first Formula One championship

Renault introduced the turbo engine to Formula One when they debuted their first car, the Renault RS01 at Silverstone in 1977 and the Renault team continued until 1986. From 1989 Renault supplied engines to the successful Williams-Renault car.

Renault took over the Benetton Formula team in 2000[158] for the 2001 season and became Renault F1 in 2002. In 2005 and 2006 the team won the Constructors' and Drivers' titles (with Fernando Alonso).[159] At the 2005 French Grand Prix Carlos Ghosn set out his policy regarding the company's involvement in motorsport:

"We are not in Formula One out of habit or tradition. We're here to show our talent and that we can do it properly… Formula One is a cost if you don't get the results. Formula One is an investment if you do have them and know how to exploit them."

Renault powered the winning 2010 Red Bull Racing team, and entered to a similar role with its old team in December 2010, when sold the final participation on it to the investment group Genii Capital, the main stakeholder[160] since December 2009,[161] ending Renault's direct role in running a F1 team for the second time.[162]

As of 2014, the F1 involvement of Renault is centred in Renault Sport F1, which provides engines and related elements to several client teams (Infiniti Red Bull Racing, Lotus F1 Team, Scuderia Toro Rosso and Caterham F1 Team).[163]


Renault has been involved in rallying from an early era. Marcel Renault won the 1902 Rallye Paris-Vienna, but lost his life while competing in the 1903 Paris-Madrid.[164]

During the 1950s and 1960s, Renault manufactured several small cars with rear wheel drive in some cases, as the R4, the R8 or the Dauphine. These cars were well-adapted to the rally of the time, and the tuner Amedee Gordini collaborated with its performance.[164] In the 1950s the Renault Dauphine won several international rallies, including the 1956 Mille Miglia and the 1958 Monte Carlo Rally.[165]

In 1973, Renault took control of Automobiles Alpine, a related company for several years, which was responsible for building successful rally cars such as the A110.[166] A highly evolved A110 won the first World Rally Championship, representing Alpine-Renault.[164]

In 1976, the Alpine's competition department and the Gordini factory at Viry-Chatillon were merged into Renault Sport.[166] The focus shifted to Formula One, although Renault achieved several victories including the 1981 Monte Carlo Rally with the Renault 5 Turbo[165] before retirement from the world rally in late 1994.[164]

Renault cars also participate of cross-country races, most prominently the Dakar Rally. The Marreau brothers won the 1982 edition driving a Renault 20 Turbo 4x4 prototype.[167] Later, Renault motorised and sponsored the Schlesser-Renault Elf buggies which won the 1999[168] and 2000 editions.[169] The 1999 car was the first two-wheel drive Dakar's winner.[170]


From 1983 to 1984, Renault sponsored an Unlimited hydroplane in the United States. Owned by Jerry Schoenith and driven by E. Milner Irvin, the Miss Renault was powered by a turbocharged Allison V-1710 piston engine. Miss Renault won the 1983 World Championship race in Houston, Texas.

Renault in the UK[edit]

The first popular Renault motor vehicles to achieve sustained sales success in the United Kingdom were the R5 mini-car and R18, both of which attained six-digit sales figures during the late 1970s and early 1980s, although they failed to achieve anything like the volumes of established carmakers Ford, Vauxhall and Austin Rover.

Renault enjoyed a huge rise in popularity among British buyers on the arrival of the Clio supermini in early 1991. It was regularly among Britain's most popular cars each year during the 1990s and its successor (launched in 1998 alongside the final installment of the successful 'Nicole and Papa' advertising campaign),[171] where the original model left off. The sedan/saloon version, called Thalia, was not launched in the UK.

Renault went from strength to strength in the UK during the 2000s following the introduction of its distinctively styled Mégane hatchback in November 2002. Any suggestions that its quirky styling would not fit in with the tastes of British buyers were quickly confounded in 2005 when it was the fourth best-selling car in Britain. By 2006 Renault was the third most popular brand of car in the United Kingdom, only Ford and Vauxhall sold more units.[citation needed]

In 2007 Renault UK lost a US$2 million lawsuit against an independent distributor who had placed orders for 217 cars under a discount scheme intended for members of the British Airline Pilots Association- 3 were legitimate- because they had "made a profit of some sort on every vehicle". Two Renault employees were criticised for having "turned a blind eye" to the very large number of orders.[172]

By 2008, Renault sales had started declining in the UK and the marque was down to eighth most popular brand with 89,570 sales (down 29% compared to 2007) and considerably less than the 194,685 sales made in 2002. Renault suffered more than most main brands in the UK during 2009 as the recession deepened and ended the year with 63,174 sales and a reduced 3.17% market share. In 2010, however, as the economy returned to growth, Renault sold more than 95,000 cars and boosted its market share to 4.71%.[173] However, in 2011 Renault's fortunes fell again. It sold 68,449 cars, down more than 28 per cent on the year before, a 3.53 per cent market share.[citation needed]

The Koleos SUV was discontinued in the UK in August 2010 due to slow sales under 3,000 units. In late 2011, Renault announced that the Laguna, Espace, Kangoo, Modus, and Wind lines would be discontinued in the UK due to cutting costs and 55 of its 190 British dealerships would be closed. This change took place in early 2012, leaving the current range limited to the Twingo, Clio, Mégane, Scénic, and the new Twizy and Fluence Z.E. models,[174] and Renault feared that the company's overall sales figures in Britain for 2012 would be around 51,000 – barely a quarter of the record 190,000 sales in 2005.[175]

As of 2014, two Renault models are among the most numerous vehicles in the British car parc: the Clio (ranked 6th by total number) and the Megane (ranked 10th).[176]


Car of the Year award in Europe[edit]

Renault models have won the European Car of the Year award six times in the last forty years.

The Renault 12 (1970), Renault 5 (1973), Renault 20 (1976), Renault 25 (1985), Renault Safrane (1993), and Renault Laguna (2002) have all been named runners-up in the competition.

The Renault Alliance was the first car with a foreign nameplate to win the Motor Trend Car of the Year award in the United States.[183] Renault cars have won other national-level awards in Spain, Australia, Ireland, and elsewhere. Renault's Dacia subsidiary has won the "Autobest" car of the year award; an award more focused on economy, as it represents 15 lower-income European and Eurasian countries.

Marketing and branding[edit]

Renault diamond badge in use 1972–1992
Renault logo used from 2004 to 2007

Renault badge[edit]

The first badge of Renault was introduced in 1900 and consisted in Renault brothers' intertwined initials. When the company started mass production in 1906, it adopted a gear-shaped logo with a car inside it. After the World War I the company used a special logo depicting a FT tank. In 1923 it introduced a new circle-shaped badge, which was replaced by the today most widely known "diamond" or lozenge in 1925.[184][185]

The Renault diamond logo has been through many iterations since it was first used.[184] To modernise its image, Renault asked Victor Vasarely to design its new logo in 1972. Vasarely had already worked in the advertising world and he placed his graphic talents at the service of the brand. The transformed logo maintained the diamond shape but gained cleaner, more dynamic and angular lines. A seventies design that has since been revised to reflect the new more rounded lines of the brand’s styling cues.[186] The current diamond badge has been in use since 1992, though the Renault brand logo for web and print use was updated two times since then. In 2004 was incorporated a more realistic badge representation inside a yellow square with the word "Renault" in Renault Identité typeface besides it. In 2007, Renault commissioned to Saguez & Partners a new redesign. In this new version, currently in use, the word "Renault" was included inside the yellow square.[184][187]

The yellow associated with the company appeared initially in the diamond badge of 1946, when Renault was nationalised.[184][185]


Both the Renault logo and its documentation (technical as well as commercial) historically used a specially designed typeface called Renault MN, developed by British firm Wolff Olins. This type family is said to have been designed not for prestige reasons, but mainly to save costs at a time where the use of typefaces was more costly than it is now. In 2004, French typeface designer Jean-François Porchez was commissioned to design a replacement. This was shown in October of that year and is called Renault Identité.[188]

Since 2007, as part of the Saguez & Partners revamp of Renault's visual image, all the graphic advertising make use of the Helvetica Neue Condensed typeface.[189]

L'Atelier Renault Paris[edit]

L'Atelier Renault in Paris

Renault's flagship showroom, L'Atelier Renault (French pronunciation: ​[latəlje ʁəno])), is located on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, where other car manufacturers such as Peugeot, Citroën and Toyota also have showrooms. It was opened in November 2000, located on the site of Pub Renault, which ran from 1963 to 1999. The first Renault's venue at the location was the Magasin Renault established in 1910, a pioneering car showroom, in a building leased by Louis Renault.[190][191]

L'Atelier currently features a Renault Boutique as well as regular exhibitions featuring Renault and Dacia cars, while an upmarket restaurant is located on the second floor, looking out onto the Champs-Élysées. The ground floor can hold up to five different exhibitions at any one time. As of March 2009, 20 million visitors have visited L'Atelier Renault.[192][193][194]

Renault Classic[edit]

Main article: Renault Classic

Renault Classic is a department within Renault that seeks to collect, preserve and exhibit notable vehicles from the company's history. Originally named Histoire & Collection, the collection was assembled in 2002 and its workshops formally opened on 24 April 2003.[195]


Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Renault's European advertising made extensive use of Robert Palmer's song "Johnny and Mary".[196] The earlier television advertisements used Palmer's original version, while a range of special recordings in different styles were produced during the 1990s; most famously Martin Taylor's acoustic interpretation which he released on his album Spirit of Django.


Renault is a sponsor of the Port Adelaide Football Club in the Australian Football League, signing a three-year deal in 2013.[197]

Renault sponsored and was heavily featured in Le Visionarium a time-travel film at Disneyland Paris.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]