This timeline looks at the history of our Group, from 1898 to the present day. Renault’s extraordinary industrial and human adventure features emblematic models, plant openings, sporting achievements, charismatic people and game-changing innovations.
Renault signed a joint venture agreement with the Chinese carmaker Dongfeng, creating the Dongfeng Renault Automotive Company (DRAC). The agreement paved the way for the construction of a plant at Wuhan.
Inspired by Dezir, Clio 4 was the first vehicle to feature Renault’s new design identity.
Reveal of the Dezir concept car
The Dezir concept car, revealed at the Paris Motor Show, embodied the renewal of Renault’s design strategy under the leadership of Laurens van den Acker. The model represented the first petal in the life-cycle “daisy”: Love
Renault acquires a 25% share in AVTOVAZ
On 29 February Renault took a 25% share in AVTOVAZ, Russian’s leading carmaker with the Lada brand.
Twingo caused a sensation at the Paris Motor Show. With its loveable, “froggy” face and bold design blending minivan and city car, the new model surprised – and then proved immensely popular. A mix of the words “Twist”, “Swing” and “Tango”, Twingo targeted young customers and was initially available only in a purely minimalist version (with just four colors on launch). The launch of the second generation in June 2007, was then replaced by Twingo 3 in 2014. The adventure continues…
Launch of Renault Safrane
Safrane, replacing the Renault 25, was Renault’s high-end model through to the end of production in 2000.
Williams-Renault wins F1 Constructors’ World Champion title
With 15 pole positions and 10 wins – six of which one-twos – in 16 races, Williams-Renault won the F1 Constructors’ World Champion title and Nigel Mansell the Driver’s title that year. Renault engines would claim the championship for the next six years.
Close of the Ile Seguin plant
Production at the historic Ile Seguin plant in Boulogne-Billancourt shut down for good on March 21.
Renault Espace, the world’s first minivan
The reveal of Espace generated huge media buzz. But the triumph was far from foretold. A vehicle this spacious and modular had never been seen before. With five fully modular rear seats, each one swiveling to create a “living room” space, Espace surprised – and appealed.
Targeting young, female customers, the new city car with its short hood and three-door body shook up motoring habits. The interior boasted a new and resolutely 1970s style with its bright colors and square dials. In its first year on the market, the Renault 5 took a 5% share of the French auto market, before going on to become the best-selling car in Europe three years later. It topped the rankings of compact cars in France for over 10 years and sold in over 5,325,000 units worldwide. The R5 today occupies a special place in the pantheon of iconic cars from the second half of the 20th century alongside the 2CV, Beetle and DS.
Launched in January 1965, the Renault 16 was the first compact family car with a hatchback opening – a breakthrough at the time. The car was initially criticized for being too original but quickly became a success through word of mouth. Half-estate car and half-sedan, the Renault 16 aimed to “show the way forward” as expressed in the advertisement for the new model. The car’s unusual body styling was quickly imitated by rivals. The first Renault to be produced at the new Sandouville plant, the Renault 16 would go on to sell in nearly two million units.
Renault launches the Renault 4, a true cultural phenomenon
The Renault 4L, the first “car for living”, was the product of a brilliant idea: to create a versatile car able to go practically anywhere and prove useful in all circumstances. Unveiled in 1961, the five-door model featured a tailgate that opened to reveal a modular space in which the rear bench could be folded down to transform the car into a van. Brilliant! The Renault 4 would be produced in over 8 million units and exported to over 100 countries before its career came to an end on December 21, 1994.
The Dauphine succeeded rather than replaced the 4CV. The idea of succession was underscored by the name Dauphine, the French word for “heir apparent”. The new model introduced a fresh spirit, featuring all the modern accessories of the time, including adjustable seats, heating and an automatic gearbox. The car’s curvaceous forms were consistent with car design in the 1960s. The 4CV’s career came to an end in December 1967, at which point it was the most-produced French car in history at 2,150,738 units.
The 4CV, revealed at the Paris Motor Show in October, was the first rear-engined Renault and the first French vehicle to be produced in over one million units. Developed in secret during the Second World War, the 4CV weighed just 560kg, consumed very little fuel and could comfortably transport four people. It was manufactured in numerous versions, from the highly economical Service model to the attractive Convertible and Sportive 1063 models. It was sold in the USA and manufactured in Japan.
In 1945 the Société Anonyme des Usines Renault (SAUR) company became La Régie Nationale des Usines Renault (RNUR), wholly owned by the French State.
Opening of the Ile Seguin plant
Renault opened the Ile Seguin plant in Boulogne-Billancourt outside Paris. The plant produced the prestigious 8-cylinder Reinastella. The brand was now present in 49 countries.
Renault logo adopts diamond shape
Requisition of 1,000 Renault vehicles for the “Taxis of the Marne” effort
The French War Ministry called on Renault to contribute to the war effort and entrusted it with 31 contracts, including for ambulances, aircraft engines and shells. Renault taxis transported some 4,000 men to the front, entering history as the “Taxis of the Marne”.
First two-cylinder engine
Renault designed the first two-cylinder engine, the basic module for the four-cylinder engine that powered the light vehicle Voiturette – with Marcel Renault at its wheel – to victory in the Paris-Vienna race.
Creation of Société Renault Frères
Louis’ brothers, Marcel and Fernand Renault, founded the Société Renault Frères company in 1898. Louis remained an employee of the company, working on design. The Voiturette soon won its first motorsport races, in the process boosting Renault’s total orders for the year to 71.
The Renault Voiturette drives up rue Lepic
The adventure began on December 24, 1898, when Louis Renault drove up the steep rue Lepic on Montmartre in Paris with his Voiturette, equipped with a revolutionary direct-drive transmission. That same evening he took 12 firm orders for the vehicle.
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