Going as far back as the late 1890’s Renault’s first vehicles were manufactured by founder Louis Renault along with members of his family under the first company name of Society Renault. Along with his two brothers two friends also helped in the manufacture of the first cars – their first one was the Voiturette and was sold in December of (18)98. What had been done to sell it was a test drive by their father’s close friend and associate, who was impressed by it and bought it immediately afterwards. After this success they then began to drum up publicity in motorsports such as auto racing and other events.

Their company – within a year of its first car – began producing the first sedan, and by the end of the decade in 1910 they had branched into the manufacture of trucks, taxis, and other vehicles. During the First World War the Renault factories produced ammunition, armament, and many other needed materials, and afterwards focused on many successful car lines. However during the Second World War, Renault was taken by the Germans and forced to serve the Third Reich’s war machine. When the liberation of France occurred in 1944 Louis Renault was imprisoned, in which before he was able to have his day in court he was found with his neck broken. After this all of his assets were seized by the French government and the car manufacturing company was turned into a public manufacturing corporation under a man named Lefaucheux.

Renault Logos

After the war and during its time as a public industry in France it was many new and innovative designs, and was able to compete heavily with other popular car manufacturing firms at the time, such as Volkswagen and even against the Beetle they maintained popularity. They continued to build massive and widespread support of their vehicles through genius marketing involving automobile racing and rallies.

By the 70s they had bounded into success that pushed them further, and even during the energy crisis of 1973 their top selling model, the economic based Renault 5, sold extremely well and continued to do so until it was replaced in the mid 80’s by the Super5. The late 70s was the era and legacy of partnerships for Renault, seeing a partnership with AMC and the formation of smaller firms in other European countries, in addition to agreements and technical information trades with Peugeot and Volvo, and even involvements and expansions into the South American markets.

However by the early 80s poor production quality plagued the lines, and by 1981 restructuring had to begin. In 1984 they were loosing millions of dollars, in fact, billions of francs – 12 billion in one year. A new chairman was appointed, named Georges Besse, and was charged with turning Renault around.

In swift action Georges cut many aspects of Renault, cutting costs and cutting losses. His changed were widespread and reverberated throughout the company – but in 1986 he was murdered outside his own home by Action Directe, a terrorist leftist group. His successor, Levy, continued the former’s policy and the deficit was eliminated by the latter 80’s. After this in the mid 90’s Renault became privatized and a traded company, then they made a shocking move by forming an alliance with the Japanese automaker Nissan in 2000.

Since then the profits have risen an astounding 45% for Renault, and a 5% increase in worldwide sales – about 2.5 million vehicles. New plans include a program to sell 800,000 more cars next year, and the introduction of the new Laguna.

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