In 1898 , Louis Renault (1877 - 1944) converted a De-Dion Bouton cycle by modifying the then prevalent chain drive system to a propeller shaft system and challenged others for a race up a steep gradient. Renault won the race and in the process generated 13 orders for the propeller shaft driven car. Louis Renault along with his brothers Marcel Renault and Fernand Renault formed the company Renault Freres in 1899 to manufacture and sell these "Renault Little cars"
Renault is to be pronounced as "Reh-no" in English.
Below are the 1899 Renault Type A and a 1901 Renault
In 1908 the name of the company was changed to Societe Automobiles Renault and continued to manufacture small cars, taxis, buses and trucks. During the wars they shifted to manufacture of ammunition and battle tanks. After the WWII , Louis Renault was accused of conspiring with the Germans and was arrested and imprisoned in a French prison. Louis Renault died in prison within 4 weeks, under mysterious circumstances.
After the death of Louis Renault , the company was taken over by the French government and nationalised. Renault continued to manufacture Cars & Trucks, some of the well-known cars of that era being the 4CV and the Dauphine.
In 1999 , Renault acquired controlling stake in Nissan Motors , Japan and later saved Nissan from bankruptcy in a restructuring process planned and driven by the current CEO , Carlos Ghosn. Renault-Nissan alliance also acquired Dacia of Romania in 1999; Samsung Motors of South Korea in 2000; AvtoVAZ of Russia in 2008 and is one of the top 5 automobile manufacturers in the world currently.
Renault-Nissan alliance has invested heavily in the electric mobility , which according to them is the future. RN alliance have launched the Nissan Leaf , a Battery electric vehicle, Renault Fluence ZE - another battery electric vehicle. Apart from developing Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) , they are also developing charging systems & infrastructure in certain countries and also pioneering battery swapping technologies.
The first logo of Renault had the initial of the three brothers - Louis , Fernand & Marcel. The Diamond started appearing in 1925 and the Yellow later , indicating Dynamism & Quality.
In the earlier years, Renault was also in to manufacture of commercial vehicles and tractors. In 1955 , Renault truck operations acquired other truck manufacturers like Souma & Latil (a 4x4 pioneer) to form a company named Saviem (Societe Anonyme de Vehicules Industriels et de Equipments Mecaniques). Saviem acquired Berliet and was renamed as Renault Vehicules Industriels (RVI) in 1978. The RVI was sold off to Volvo in 2001 and now is part of Volvo group. The Logo of RVI - Renault diamond in RED background.