Located in Boulogne-Billancourt in France, Renault manufactures a wide range of cars and vans. In 2011, Renault was one of the three biggest automakers in Europe and the ninth biggest in the world. Renault also owns 43.4 percent of Nissan and has different joint ventures.
Louis, Marcel and Fernand Renault founded the company in 1899, but it wasn’t until 1903 that they began to make their own engines, and in 1905, they made their first major sale to create taxis for London and Paris. In 1908, they became the largest car manufacturer in France.
When the Renault brothers realized participating in car racing could help get their name out there, Louis and Marcel began racing, but in 1903, Marcel was killed in a race, and although the company continued to remain involved in racing, Louis never raced again. His other brother Ferdinand died in 1909, leaving Louis as the sole owner.
Before the start of the First World War, Louis contributed with military designs that were so well-received they won him the Legion of Honor. During World War II, Nazi Germany took control of the Renault factories, but Louis refused to make tanks for them. In 1942, bombs hurtled the city and destroyed most of the plant and additional bombings continued to destroy the rest of the plant.
In 1944, only a few weeks after Paris was liberated, the Renault factory gates opened again, but the government accused Louis of working with the Germans. He was arrested on September 23, 1944, and died in jail on October 24, 1944 while awaiting trial. The company was nationalized, despite arguments from the Renault family.
It wasn’t until 1996 that the company was privatized, which allowed the company to grow, but it continued to struggle. In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, Renault decided to focus on cars and vans alone, selling off other parts.
The current flagship model of Renault is the Renault Latitude. It has been in production since 2010.
The Latitude is a luxury executive sedan with four doors, and it replaced the Renault Vel Satis. It is based on the Renault/Nissan D platform and was already developed as the Renault Samsung SM5 third generation.
The Latitude has a 3.5-liter V6 engine, and it is a 6-speed automatic. Buyers can also choose a 2.0-liter diesel, transverse in-line 4 cylinder engine. The paint and interior color options are limited, there are two different models from which to choose: Privilege and Dynamic, and both come with most available features. Additional options include front and rear parking sensors with camera, Blind Spot Warning and metallic paint.
Servicing countries all over the world means Renault has many different models, including some that are only available in certain countries, but European cars include the Clio, Captur, Scénic, Mégane, Espace, Laguna and Koleos.
Clio: The Clio has been in production since 1990. It is in the supermini class, and it is in its fourth generation. Since its debut, it has been one of the post popular cars in Europe, and it helped rebound Renault after their financial struggles.
Captur: The Captur is an urban crossover, and it has been in production since 2013. It is a mini SUV and it is based on the fourth generation Clio.
Scénic: A compact multi-purpose vehicle, the Scénic is based on the Mégane chassis. Later generations offer the Grand Scénic, which comes with 7 seats. It has been in production since 1996.
Mégane: The Mégane has been in production since 1995. It comes in a wide variety of models, including 3-door, 5-door, hatchback, saloon, coupé, convertible and estate.
Espace: The Espace is a larger multip-purpose vehicle than the Scénic. The fourth generation is the first all-Renault model, known as the Renault Grand Espace. It has been in production since 1984.
Laguna: The Laguna is a large family sedan that has been in production since 1993. Other options include the Laguna Grandtour, which comes with a hatchback and the Laguna Coupé.
Koleos: A compact SUV, the Renault Koleos has been in production since 2007. It is manufactured by Renault Samsung Motors, a Renault subsidiary.
The Renault Voiturette was the very first car produced by Renault. It was sold on December 24, 1898 to a friend of Louis Renault. The car was extremely small, and it was produced from 1898 to 1903.
After World War II, Renault debuted its new flagship model: the Renault Frégate. It had a 2-litere, 4-cylinder rear engine, and it was produced from 1951 to 1960.
In the 1960’s, Renault developed the Renault 4 and the Renault 8. Both were very successful. The Renault 4 came in a 2-door truck, 2-door van or a 5-door hatchback, while the Renault 8 was a 4-door saloon. The Renault 4 was in production from 1961 to 1992. The Renault 8 was produced from 1962 to 1973, except in Spain, where it was produced until 1976. They continued their success with the Renault 6, Renault 12 and Renault 16.
Although Renault is no longer nationalized, the French government still owns 15 percent of the company.
Despite the death of Marcel in a racing accident, Renault continued to participate in races, and in 1906, Renault won the first Grand Prix ever.
Renault also offers electric cars: the super mini Renault Twizy, the larger Renault Kangoo ZE van and the SM3 ZE sedan.