Producing cars since late 1898, the Renault corporation was founded in 1899 as Société Renault Frères by Louis Renault, his brothers Marcel and Fernand, and his friends Thomas Evert and Julian Wyer. 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.
The very first of the Renault cars, the Renault Voiturette 1CV was sold to a friend of Louis' father after giving him a test ride on December 24, 1898. The client was so impressed with the way the tiny car ran and how it climbed the streets that he bought it.
The brothers immediately 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. Although Louis Renault never raced again, his company remained very involved, including their Renault AK 90CV winning the first ever Grand Prix motor racing event in 1906. Louis was to take full control of the company as the only remaining brother in 1906 when Fernand retired for health reasons.
The Renault reputation for innovation of Renault cars was fostered from very early on. In 1899, Renault launched the first production sedan car as well as patenting the first turbocharger.Renault manufactured taxis, buses and commercial cargo vehicles in the pre-war years, and during World War I (1914 - 1918) branched out into ammunition, military airplanes and vehicles such as the revolutionary Renault FT-17 tank. By the end of the war, Renault was the number one private manufacturer in France.
* 1898 - Louis Renault founded Renault
Renault Cars' Iconic Special Edition Twingo Goes on Sale
(A special edition of Renault’s flawed but charismatic Twingo city car is open for orders. Dubbed the ‘Iconic,’ this new-edition nipper will be packed with additional gear and upgrades inside and out.
Throwing it right in at the top of the Twingo range, these Renault cars has been priced the at £14,595).* 1998 - The second generation Clio is launched, using an all-new body and being one of the most competitively-priced European superminis, though these Renault cars' styling is not to all tastes.
* 1999 - Renault purchased a 36.8 percent equity stake in Nissan , the almost bankrupt Japanese car maker, by injecting US$3.5 billion to obtain effective control of the company under Japanese law. Renault vice-president, Carlos Ghosn was parachuted in to turn round the ailing firm. Nissan also owns 15% of Renault in turn.
* 2000 - Renault launches the Laguna II - the first European family car to feature "keyless" entry and ignition.
* 2001 - Renault sold its industrial vehicle subdivision (Renault Véhicules Industriels) to Volvo, which renamed it Renault Trucks in 2002. The Clio undergoes a major facelift and the launch of a 1.5 direct-injection diesel engine to keep it competitive in the supermini sector.
* 2002 - Benetton Formula One team formally becomes Renault F1, Renault increases its stake in Nissan to 44.4 percent.
* 2002 - Renault gains another European Car of the Year success with its second generation Megane, a quirky-looked car which is set to form the basis of Nissan's Almera replacement later in the decade.
* 2003 - Renault expands in Megane hatchback range with coupe-cabriolet, estate (SportsTourer) and sedan (SportsSaloon) variants.
* 2004 - The Renault factory in Billancourt is demolished.
* 2005 - Carlos Ghosn becomes president.
* 2005 - The Clio III is elected European Car of the Year 2006 and gains plaudits from all over Europe for these Renault cars' class-leading qualities. The previous generation these Renault cars is set to continue for a while until the Twingo II goes on sale.
* 2006 - In February, Carlos Ghosn announced the "Renault Contrat 2009" plan focusing on three main goals :
The same year, Renault and Nissan engaged talks with General Motors to study a potential Alliance. This approach was finally abandoned due to the fact that GM asked for money as "entry ticket" from Renault
* 2007 - The third generation Laguna is introduced, strengthening Renault's position in the large family car sector.
Renault cars have performed well in the European Car of the Year awards. The Clio is the only car since the prize's conception in 1964 to win the award twice.
* 1966: Renault 16 * 1982: Renault 9 * 1991: Renault Clio * 1997: Renault Scénic * 2003: Renault Mégane II * 2006: Renault Clio III
The Renault 12 (1970), Renault 5 (1972), Renault 20 (1976), Renault 25 (1985) and Renault Laguna (2002) have all achieved runners-up in spot in the competition. Renault cars' most recent models are well known for their safety, all but 4 of the current models have achieved the maximum 5-star rating by the EuroNCAP crash-test assessment programme. Renault has regularly topped the French car sales charts, fighting off fierce competition from Citroën and Peugeot.
Wheels magazine has announced its Car of the Year every year since 1963, with the exception of 1972, 1979 and 1986 when no cars were considered worthy of the honour. It is considered Australia's most prestigious automotive award. Wheels Magazine itself contends that its Car of the Year award remains the oldest continuous award of its kind in the world.
The inaugural Australian Wheels Car of the Year award was won by the R8 in 1963, and Renault won again in 1970 when the Renault 12 won the prestigious award.