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Renault

Renault

France France (1898 - present)
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History

Workshop, Louis Renault, 1898

Workshop, Louis Renault, 1898

© photo courtesy of: Renault

Louis Renault, his brothers Marcel and Fernand and his friends Thomas Evert and Julian Wyer established the company in 1898, after several orders began being placed for Louis Renault to build cars. Then, Société Renault Frères was founded in Boulogne-Billancourt, France, and the headquarters is still placed there today.

Louis was an engineer himself and was responsible for the engineering and designing tasks at the company, while his brothers Marcel and Fernand were in charge for the company’s administration.

The company’s first production car was the Renault Voiturette 1CV, launched in 1989. Renault also patented the first turbocharger that year.

After Fernand Renauld left the company for health reasons and Marcel died in a car crash in the Paris-Madrid race, Louis remained as the only Renault brother running the company in 1906.

Renault factory Billancourt, 1906

Renault factory Billancourt, 1906

© photo courtesy of: Renault


For the time of the World War I, the Renault power plant switched production to ammunition, military aircraft and war vehicles, such as the quite popular FT-17 tanks. Renault became the most successful private car builder in France when the War ceased.

In the time period from the first to the second World War, Louis Renault amplified its factory production to agricultural and industrial machinery. Also, Renault’s model range included small, mid-size and large vehicles, in order to please several market segments.

The company’s factories were working for Nazi Germany during the second World War, so when France was finally liberated in 1944 Louis Renault was captured and put into jail, where he would die – allegedly murdered – before he even had the opportunity to work on his defence.

Renault plants were also confiscated by the state and nationalized, being now named “Régie Nationale des Usines Renault”. However, the company underwent a significant commercial development as a public industry.

Renault Dauphine, 1956

Renault Dauphine, 1956

© photo courtesy of: Renault

Not even the oil crisis of the 1970’s was enough to affect the French brand as they further amplified their model range and their world dealer network. After some partnership projects between Renault and AMCAMCAMCUnited States of America, 1954 > 198713 models
10 photos
1 video
(American Motor Company), the French company eventually bought AMC in 1980.

In 1996, Renault was finally privatised again, but the French government still owns a 15.7% stake at the company. In January 2001, Renault sold their industrial vehicles division (Renault Véhicules Industriels) to Swedish automaker VolvoVolvoVolvoSweden, 1927 > present49 models
4464 photos
6 videos
and was later re-baptized as Renault Trucks.

Currently, Renault owns a 44.4% share of Japanese car manufacturer NissanNissanNissanJapan, 1932 > present156 models
6872 photos
12 videos
, which in turn owns a 15% – non-voting – share at Renault. Together, the French and the Japanese car companies form the Renault-Nissan Alliance.

Renault also participates as a shareholder at the South Korean car builder Samsung Motors, at the Swedish Volvo Group (with a controlling 20% share) and at the Romanian car company DaciaDaciaDaciaRomania, 1966 > present11 models
478 photos
3 videos
.



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Logo

The first symbol that was made to badge Renault cars was drawn in 1900 and it included the initials of the three brothers that founded the company: Louis, Marcel and Fernand Renault. The initial logo didn’t last too long, as it was changed in 1906 for a new one that consisted on the drawn of a car’s front end surrounded by a gear wheel.

Renault logo history

Renault logo history

© photo courtesy of: Renault

While the first World War was taking place, Renault built a tank that was so popular – the FT-17 – that soon the badge was switched for the drawn of a tank with a thick circle around it. The 1919 tank logo was replaced in 1923 by a circle with slots that were drawn according to the car’s grille (where the badge is placed) and had the word “Renault” in the centre. The slots allowed the car’s horn sound to escape, as the horn was placed directly behind the badge. The circled drawing would only last for two years as in 1925 the diamond shape replaced it, maintaining however its original functionality of letting the sound of the horn escape through the slots.

The diamond-shaped styling has remained ever since until nowadays and is the definite symbol of Renault as we know it. However, some adjustments were made through the years: in 1946 the words “Régie Nationale” were added below the brand’s name at the centre of the diamond, standing for the company’s nationalization after the Word War II, but they were removed in 1959.

Finally, in 1972, Victor Vasarely – who is considered to be the precursor of optical art – designed what was to become the modern Renault diamond. It was perfected in 1992 with the word “Renault” bellow the diamond and was given a yellow background in 2004.

In 2007, the French image consultancy agency Saguez & Partners was given the job to improve the logo, in particular its 3D styling and shadow. The French typeface designer Jean-François Porchez ran this task and chose the Helvetic Neue Condensed letter type to write the word “Renault” in all communication pieces, including advertising. The new lettering is said to be more up-to-date and legible. As a result of his work, the background’s yellow shade is slightly darker and the 3D effect of the diamond was improved.



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Motorsport

Soon after the Renault brothers established their car manufacturing company, they became aware of the commercial advantages they could benefit from by entering motorsport competitions. The French brand indeed pulled off some positive publicity from their first participation in racing by achieving an instant victory at France’s first city-to-city races.

The first Renault racing cars were driven by brothers Louis and Marcel Renault but the latter would be killed in a racing accident at the 1903 Paris-Madrid event. Thus Louis also refused to ever race again.

The French car builder, however, kept on participating in racing events and their Renault AK 90CVType AKRenault Type AKFrance, 1906 > 19063 photos
brought home the champ title for the first Grand Prix race ever, which was the 1906 French GP.

Renault’s next successful racing car would be the 4CV4CV Gen.1Renault 4CV Gen.1France, 1947 > 19616 versions
54 photos
, which gave the company a lot of positive recognition by winning three major motor sport events: the Le Mans 24 Hours, the Mille Miglia and the Monte Carlo Rally races.

Renault reinforced its involvement in racing when the company created their own motorsport division – Renault Sport – and entered Formula 1 in 1977.

The company’s motorsport team went on to be the first team to introduce turbocharged racing cars into Formula 1, beginning with the Renault RS01RS01Renault RS01France, 1977 > present3 photos
at the 1977 Silverstone race. This was a much criticized idea at first. However, soon after Renault’s turbocharged cars won their first race at Dijon (France), in 1979, almost all Formula 1 teams began using turbochargers as well. Renault Sport competed as a team in F1 until 1985.

Renault’s motorsport team was also quite successful with the Renault 5 Turbo5 TurboRenault 5 TurboFrance, 1983 > present4 photos
in rallying and with the Renault Alpine A442A442BAlpine A442BFrance, 1978 > present4 photos
that won the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1978.

During Renault’s non-competing period in the 1990’s, the company was still involved in Formula 1 as an engine supplier for teams like BenettonBenettonBenettonUnited Kingdom, 1985 > 200112 models
13 photos
and WilliamsWilliamsWilliamsUnited Kingdom, 1977 > present36 models
249 photos
. A Renault-engined Benetton car won the 1995 F1 World Championship, whilst four Renault-powered Williams cars achieved the same title for the 1992, 1993, 1996 and 1997 seasons. Overall, Renault supplied engines to Benetton and Williams for 5 drivers’ world championships (from 1992 to 1997, except for 1994) and for 6 constructors’ world championships (every year from 1992 to 1997).

Renault returned to competing in Formula 1 as a constructor in 2001 and took control of the Benetton F1 team, renaming it Renault the following year. From 2002 onwards, Renault team has been fairly successful, beginning with the team’s victory at the 2003 Hungarian Grand Prix with driver Fernando Alonso. Alonso also drove the Renault team to victory in both the Constructors’ and the Drivers’ world titles in 2005 and 2006.
 



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