The birth of the popular auto, the Renault, was marked by the primary contribution of one single individual – Louis Renault. On Christmas Eve in 1898, Louis Renault who had a passion for mechanics drove his new car, which was a De Dion-Bouon cycle converted with a universal jointed propeller shaft with three gear speeds. His friends and brother made fun of his invention when he parked it outside.
Taking up the challenge, Louis Renault drove his “Voiturette,” as it was called, down the steep hills of Rue Lepic several times much to the amazement of his friends. His efforts won him an order for the first 12 cars, marking his beginning as an auto maker. It also started a long era of Renault’s list of patents starting with Louis Renault’s universal jointed propeller shaft, which came with a three-gear box including reverse, with the third gear in direct drive.
His car came to be known as Renault Voiturette Type A. In the year 1899, the company, Renault Freres, was formed when Fernand and Marcel Renault joined hands with Louis Renault. When the company started to offer their patented creation to others, the money flowing in from the patent was channeled towards the expansion of the company.
Understanding the role played by racing in the publicity of the car, the Renault brothers started to take active involvement in racing their own creations. Unfortunately, Marcel Renault experienced a tragic death during the 1903 Paris-Madrid race.
In the meantime, the company’s introduced the Type B and the first commercial vehicle, the Type C and the Type K with enhanced features that were capable of driving at a speed of more than 60 kph. This drew a lot of attention from the public…
The year 1902 saw another great brainwave from Louis Renault’s, the “supercharged engine” that paved the way for the company’s entry into the F1 racing in the 1970s.
But it was the Marne Taxi, the first taxi in the history of Paris that made Renault widely known.
Louis Renault was a great visionary who recognized the potential in making a giant step towards aeronautics, diversifying into the production of an aircraft engine in 1907.
After the death of Marcel in 1903, the company came into the sole hands of Louis Renault. In 1908, he renamed the company to the Societe des Automobiles. During World War I, his attention was directed to the production of war vehicles, including the aircraft Avant Renault and the FT17 tank.
Renault went under the control of German administrators during the fall of France during World War II. After the death of Louis Renault in 1944, the company continued its direction in racing with Renault’s turbine-powered Étoile Filante — creating a world speed record that still holds good today by travelling at a speed of 308.9 kph.
Through numerous mergers and acquisitions, innovative design and revolutionary technologies, Renault has continued its saga as a great auto manufacturer, moving into the fourth position after its alliance with Nissan.