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In 2008, Renault celebrated 110 years of existence. We look back at more than a century of history with a few key dates.

1898-1918: a leading industrial firm comes into being

1877: Louis Renault is born.
1898: first Renault Voiturette, fitted with direct-drive transmission, the Type A.
1899: Renault Frères is founded by Louis’ two brothers, Marcel and Fernand.
1900: the world’s first saloon arrives on the market, the Type B.
1902: Renault produces its first engine and files a patent for the first turbo.
1903: the sales network expands and the first subsidiaries are set up outside France.
1905: Renault takes orders for 250 taxis in Paris and for exports to London, New York and Buenos Aires. The firm starts mass production.
1909: following the death of Louis Renault’s two brothers, Renault Frères becomes Société des Automobiles Louis Renault.
1913: the factory has almost 5,000 employees. The first strikes take place, in protest against the principles of Taylorism.
1914-18: Renault contributes to the war effort, supplying trucks, ambulances, aircraft engines… and the FT 17, the first light machine-gun tank.

Louis Renault - 1926

1918-1929: the roaring twenties set the stage for success

1921-29: years of great creativity

- Diversified production: passenger cars and commercial vehicles, boat and aircraft engines, motor units, etc...

- The 10CV and 40CV enjoy great success.

- Around thirty subsidiaries are set up in other countries.

1922: Renault becomes Société Anonyme des Usines Renault. The first assembly line is set up.
1927: Renault starts naming its cars.

1929-1945: lost illusions

1929: Renault moves to Billancourt. After the stock market crash, rigorous management and diversified production are the order of the day.
1936: The Front Populaire wins the elections in France; Renault symbolizes the struggle to improve workers’ rights. Production reaches a record-beating 61,146 vehicles but the company makes its first major net loss.
1937: the Juvaquatre is launched.
1939-44: the Billancourt factory is occupied by the Germans and forced to repair French tanks requisitioned by the Germans. Louis Renault dies in 1944.

1945-1955: Renault, a company owned by France

1945: the French government nationalizes Renault. Pierre Lefaucheux takes over the management of Régie Nationale des Usines Renault.
1946: launch of the 4CV, an eminently popular car.
1952-55: Renault expands outside France and in its colonial markets; Pierre Dreyfus is appointed to head the company.

1955-1975: a company in the throes of change

1955: Pierre Lefaucheux dies in a road accident and is replaced by Pierre Dreyfus.
1956-60: the Dauphine replaces the 4CV. Its failure in the US leads to an industrial, financial and social crisis.
1964-1970: the Renault 8 Gordini enjoys great sporting success.
May 1968: Renault is the barometer for workers’ protests in France: after a 33-day strike, wages are increased and the working week is cut by one hour.
1972-73: the R5 makes its debut, and goes on to account for 60% of sales after the first oil shock.

1975-1986: euphoria and shock

1975: managed by Bernard Vernier-Palliez, Renault now comprises the state-owned Régie (104,000 employees) and the subsidiaries set up through diversification (118,500 employees).
1976: founding of Renault Sport.
1980: Renault is Europe’s leading vehicle manufacturer.
1981-84: Bernard Hanon becomes President of Renault. An alliance is set up with US manufacturer AMC. Despite losses, the Group launches the R25, the Super-Cinq and – more particularly – Espace.
1985-1986: the company is facing bankruptcy. President Georges Besse introduces a policy of simplicity and diversification. He is assassinated by “Action Directe”, a group of left-wing fanatics. Raymond-Haim Lévy takes his place.

[Renault 19 in Douai factory (1992)]

Renault 19 in Douai factory (1992)

1987-1992: renaissance

1987: Renault is back in the black with profits of FF 3.7 billion.
1989: Renault posts a profit of almost FF 9 billion and makes its return to F1.
1990: an alliance is announced with Volvo, but the news does not go down well in Sweden.
1991: Clio makes its debut and is voted Car of the Year. Renault is Germany’s leading importer.
1989-1992: major reforms are carried out to cut workforce numbers, limit production and modernize the plants and network.

1992-2005: a new identity for Renault

1992: the Billancourt plant closes. Louis Schweitzer becomes President of Renault.
1992-1997: Renault takes six consecutive F1 world championship titles. Twingo, Mégane and Laguna arrive on the market.
1994: the proposed merger with Volvo falls through. The French government opens Renault to outside capital.
1996: Renault is privatized. The Group extends its presence in Brazil, Argentina and Turkey.
1997: the Vilvoorde plant is closed down. Renault withdraws from F1. Scénic is Car of the Year.
1998: Renault celebrates its centenary with the slogan “Renault, 100 years of driving innovation”. The Guyancourt Technocentre opens its doors.
1999: Renault signs an Alliance with Nissan and takes over Romania’s Dacia.
2000: Renault becomes the main shareholder of Volvo (20%). A new entity is set up, Renault Samsung Motors.
2001: Renault acquires the Benetton team and returns to F1.
2003: the Renault-Nissan Alliance is the world’s fourth biggest vehicle manufacturer.

2005-2008: Renault Commitment 2009

2005: Carlos Ghosn replaces Louis Schweitzer.
2006: presentation of Renault Commitment 2009.
2008: initiatives to promote electric vehicles: partnerships with Project Better Place and EDF, presentation of a Scénic prototype powered by a fuel cell and the concept car Z.E. Concept (for Zero Emission).

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