In 1898 the French company Renault was founded, specializing in the production of automobiles. Brothers Louis and Marcel Renault stood at the origins of the brand, each of whom took on certain functions in the development of the company. So, Louis was the director and chief engineer responsible for the creation of cars, and Marseille took over the functions of working with finance and advertising.
In the same year, the first model of the brand, the Voiturette, was presented, equipped with a 0.75 horsepower power unit. In 1901, two new models of the company were presented at once, one of them was the Renault AG-1. In addition, significant funds were invested in the modernization of the Belgian car-building enterprise, which first became a partner of the French brand, and then became part of Renault. By 1904, the company's annual production of cars exceeded one thousand copies per year. A year later, the French government ordered 250 taxis from the Renault brothers, which made it possible to conduct the first tests of the company's conveyor shop. This was followed by similar orders from the United States of America, Canada and Argentina. In 1906, the first Renault bus was released.
In 1910, the brand released two more new models, which went on sale before the First World War, but their production was phased out in 1914, and the company switched to the production of trucks and light tanks. In the first post-war period, Renault engineers are refining their early models, which take part in a number of racing competitions, which culminated in the victory at the Monte Carlo Rally.
By 1928, the production of the French brand was expanded, and a new model of the company saw the light, which received a new 7-liter power unit. In just a year, there were more than 300 representative offices of Renault in 50 countries of the world, which allowed Louis Renault to finally feel a major success. Despite the beginning of the economic crisis, sales of Renault vehicles continue to grow steadily. However, after another 9 years, the main source of income for the French company became precisely compact subcompact cars, which were in great demand among buyers from Europe and the United States of America.
In 1939, Louis Renault began work on a new model, which promised to be a real revolution in the automotive industry, but World War II began and Renault again switched to producing military equipment for the needs of the French and Belgian armies. The sad result of the German occupation of France was that all Renault factories came under the control of the German government. The founders of the company were exiled to a small chateau in the south of France, and then to one of the prisons, where Louis died in 1944. In the same year, the French government gained control over the Renault company, which nationalized all the enterprises and developments of the brand.
In 1946, the Renault 4CV compact four-door sedan was introduced with a power unit located at the rear of the car. In just 15 years, more than 1 million copies of this model have been sold, which has restored the brand's influence on the European automotive market.
In 1965, the world's first car with a hatchback body was presented, which was developed by Renault engineers and equipped with a front-wheel drive transmission, which became the first in the history of the brand. In 1972, the model was updated and received the name Renault 5. It is thanks to this model that the massive offensive of the French brand begins on the Latin American car market. In addition, it was thanks to Renault 5 that the company's management decided to create its own racing division and tuning studio. This is how Renault Sport and Alpine were presented.
Since 1966, an alliance was concluded with Renault's main competitor in the French car market - the Peugeot concern, which became a technological partner of the brand for a long time. As a result of this cooperation, several large contracts were signed, and in 1971 the Swedish company Volvo joined the partnership between the two French companies, which became Renault's technological partner in the field of commercial and truck transport.
By 1990, Renault had become a successful seller of its vehicles in the United States car market, capturing a significant 2% share of total vehicles sold. One of the reasons for the success was the release of the Espace minivan, which was specially designed for sale in the United States and Canada, which made it possible to more accurately determine customer preferences. In 1990, the subcompact hatchback Renault Clio was introduced, which won the title of best car in 1991.
In 1992, work began on the creation of a city car with low fuel consumption and small dimensions, which would increase the company's share in the automotive market in Western Europe. So the Twiggo model saw the light, which received a 1 liter power unit from the Japanese company Nissan.
In 1996, after a change of management, Renault was privatized, and its shares were listed on all major world stock exchanges. Thanks to the rapid growth in the price of the brand's securities, as well as the conclusion of a number of strategic agreements, Renault played the role of one of the saviors of the Nissan brand, which was on the verge of bankruptcy in 1997. A 37% stake in Nissan was acquired, and the Japanese firm received a 15% stake in Renault.
In the same year, Renault bought out the ruined Romanian brand Dacia, getting its production facilities at its disposal. In 1998, the Renault-Nissan concern began producing universal platforms that could be used to create cars of each of the brands, without having to spend additional money on developing models from scratch.
The next high-profile purchase was the acquisition of the truck division of Volvo, which allowed Renault to become one of the largest manufacturers of heavy trucks. At the same time, Carlos Ghosn took over at the helm of Nissan, who determined the development of the entire concern in the following decades.
In 2002, the company returns to Formula 1 racing, becoming one of the regular participants. This is how great victories were won in the drivers 'and automakers' championships in 2005 and 2006. However, by 2010, the company's presence was limited to supplying powertrains for a number of teams, including future champions from Red Bull, who became Nissan's technological partners in the creation of sports cars.
In 2006, the French concern bought out another automaker, this time the South Korean Samsung Motors, which became the official supplier of Renault and Nissan cars in South Korea and China. In addition, a joint venture was established with Samsung Electronics, which began to create computers for future models of the French brand.
In 2007, the most popular Renault car in the first decade of the 21st century was presented - Renault Logan / Sandero, built on a single Renault-Nissan B platform. Subsequently, the car became the basis for a whole lineup of the company, which is positioned as a budget one.
In the same year, Renault took a course on the creation of crossovers and four-wheel drive vehicles under its own brand, but the project was quickly abandoned, and the Nissan brand took on the development of a single all-wheel drive platform. In addition, thanks to the successful sales of cars of the luxury division of the concern, Infinity, the presence of the Renault-Nissan concern in the automotive market of the United States of America and China was expanded.
In 2010, several Renault joint ventures with local brands were opened in China, allowing for the construction of new powertrain factories. A year later, the Chinese division of Renault was founded. It is planned that by 2016 it will begin production of all-wheel drive crossovers Koleos and compact sedans Fluence.
In 2012, a large-scale renewal of the company's lineup began, as well as the concept of Renault cars that will go on sale after 2015.