Renault

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Groupe Renault ( French: [ɡʁup ʁəno]) is a French multinational automobile manufacturer established in 1899. The company produces a range of cars and vans, and in the past has manufactured trucks, tractors, tanks, buses/coaches and autorail vehicles.

According to the Organisation Internationale des Constructeurs d'Automobiles, in 2016 Renault was the ninth biggest automaker in the world by production volume. [276] The Renault–Nissan–Mitsubishi Alliance is the fourth-largest automotive group. [130]

Headquartered in Boulogne-Billancourt, near Paris, the Renault group is made up of the namesake Renault marque and subsidiaries, Alpine, Automobile Dacia from Romania, Renault Samsung Motors from South Korea, and AvtoVAZ from Russia. [130] [130] Renault has a 43.4% controlling stake in Nissan of Japan, [280] and a 1.55% stake in Daimler AG of Germany (since 2012, Renault manufactures engines for the Daimler's Mercedes A-Class and B-Class cars [18] ). Renault also owns subsidiaries RCI Banque (automotive financing), Renault Retail Group (automotive distribution) and Motrio (automotive parts). Renault has various joint ventures, including Oyak-Renault (Turkey), Renault Pars (Iran). Carlos Ghosn is the current chairman and CEO. The French government owns a 19.73% share of Renault as of April 2015.

Renault Trucks, previously known as Renault Véhicules Industriels, has been part of Volvo Trucks since 2001. Renault Agriculture became 100% owned by German agricultural equipment manufacturer CLAAS in 2008.

Together Renault and Nissan invested €4 billion (US$5.16 billion) in eight electric vehicles over three to four years beginning in 2011. [130]

Renault is known for its role in motor sport, particularly rallying, Formula 1 and Formula E. Its early work on mathematical curve modeling for car bodies is important in the history of computer graphics.

History

Founding and early years (1898–1918)

The Renault corporation was founded in 1899 as Société Renault Frères by Louis Renault and his brothers Marcel and Fernand. [130] Louis was a bright, aspiring young engineer who had already designed and built several prototypes before teaming up with his brothers, who had honed their business skills working for their father's textile firm. While Louis handled design and production, Marcel and Fernand managed the business. [281]

The first Renault car, the Renault Voiturette 1CV, was sold to a friend of Louis' father after giving him a test ride on 24 December 1898.

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1901 Voiturette Renault Type D Série B

In 1903, Renault began to manufacture its own engines; until then it had purchased them from De Dion-Bouton. The first major volume sale came in 1905 when Société des Automobiles de Place bought Renault AG1 cars to establish a fleet of taxis. These vehicles were later used by the French military to transport troops during World War I which earned them the nickname " Taxi de la Marne." [130] By 1907, a significant percentage London and Paris taxis had been built by Renault. Renault was also the best-selling foreign brand in New York in 1907 and 1908. In 1908 the company produced 3,575 units, becoming the country's largest car manufacturer.

The brothers recognised the value of publicity that participation in motor racing could generate for their vehicles. Renault made itself known through succeeding in the first city-to-city races held in Switzerland, producing rapid sales growth. Both Louis and Marcel raced company vehicles, but Marcel was killed in an accident during the 1903 Paris-Madrid race. Although Louis never raced again, his company remained very involved, including Ferenc Szisz winning the first Grand Prix motor racing event [5] in a Renault AK 90CV in 1906.

Louis took full control of the company as the only remaining brother in 1906 when Fernand retired for health reasons. [281] Fernand died in 1909 and Louis became the sole owner, renaming the company Société des Automobiles Renault (Renault Automobile Company).

Renault fostered its reputation for innovation from very early on. At the time, cars were luxury items. The price of the smallest Renaults at the time were ₣3000 francs; an amount equal to ten years pay for the average worker. In 1905 the company introduced mass-production techniques and Taylorism in 1913. [24]

Renault manufactured buses and commercial cargo vehicles in the pre-war years. The first real commercial truck from the company was introduced in 1906. During World War I, it branched out into ammunition, military aircraft engines (the first Rolls-Royce aircraft engines were Renault V8 units) [25] [27] and vehicles such as the revolutionary Renault FT tank. [24] The company's military designs were so successful that Louis was awarded the Legion of Honour for his company's contributions. [28] The company exported engines to American auto manufacturers for use in such automobiles as the GJG, which used a Renault 26 hp or 40 hp four-cylinder engine. [29]

Interwar years (1919–1938)

Louis Renault enlarged Renault's scope after 1918, producing agricultural and industrial machinery. The war led to many new products. The first Renault tractor, the Type GP was produced between 1919 and 1930. It was based on the FT tank. Renault struggled to compete with the increasingly popular small, affordable "people's cars", while problems with the stock market and the workforce slowed the company's growth. Renault also had to find a way to distribute its vehicles more efficiently. In 1920, Louis signed one of its first distribution contracts with Gustave Gueudet, an entrepreneur from northern France.

The pre-First World War cars had a distinctive front shape caused by positioning the radiator behind the engine to give a so-called "coalscuttle" bonnet. This continued through the 1920s. Only in 1930 did all models place the radiator at the front. The bonnet badge changed from circular to the familiar and continuing diamond shape in 1925.

Renault introduced new models at the Paris Motor Show that was held in September or October of the year. This led to confusion about model years. For example, a "1927" model was mostly produced in 1928.

Renault cars ranged from small to very large. For example, in 1928, when Renault produced 45,809 cars, its seven models started with a 6cv, a 10cv, the Monasix, 15cv, the Vivasix, the 18/22cv and the 40cv. Renault offered eight body styles. The larger chassis were available to coachbuilders. The smaller were the most popular while the least produced was the 18/24cv. The most expensive body style in each range was the closed car. Roadsters and tourers (torpedoes) were the cheapest.

The London operation was important to Renault in 1928. The UK market was quite large and "colonial" modified vehicles were dispatched from there to North America. Lifted suspensions, enhanced cooling and special bodies were common on vehicles sold abroad. Exports to the US by 1928 had declined to near-zero from their high point prior to WWI. A NM 40cv Tourer had a US list price of over $4,600, about the same as a Cadillac V-12. Closed 7-seat limousines started at $6,000 which was more expensive than a Cadillac V-16.

Cars were conservatively engineered and built. The Vivasix, model PG1, was sold as the "executive sports" model beginning in 1927. Lighter weight factory steel bodies powered by a 3180 cc six-cylinder motor provided a formula that lasted until the Second World War.

The "de Grand Luxe Renaults", those with a wheelbase over 12-foot (3.7 m), were produced in small numbers in two major types – six- and eight-cylinder. The 1927 six-cylinder Grand Renault models NM, PI and PZ introduced the new three spring rear suspension that considerably aided stability that was needed since some vehicles surpassed 90 mph (140 km/h).

The 8-cylinder Reinastella was introduced in 1929 and expanded to a range culminating in the 1939 Suprastella. Coachbuilders included Kellner, Labourdette, J. Rothschild et Fils and Renault bodies. Closed car Renault bodies were often trimmed with interior woodwork by Rothschild.

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In 1928 Renault introduced an upgraded specification to its "Stella" line. The Vivastella's and Grand Renaults had upgraded interior fittings and a small star fitted above the front hood logo. This proved to be a winning differentiator and in the 1930s all cars changed to the Stella suffix from the previous two alpha character model identifiers.

The Grand Renaults were built using a considerable amount of aluminium. Engines, brakes, transmissions, floor and running boards and all external body panels were aluminium. Of the few that were built, many went to scrap to aid the war effort.

In 1931, Renault introduced diesel engines for its commercial vehicles.

Renault was one of the few French vehicle manufactures that pursued the production of aircraft engines after World War I. In the late 1920s it attempted to produce a high-power military engine to compete with the American Pratt & Whitney units, which proved unsuccessful, although its civil engines achieved better results. In the 1930s the company took over the aircraft manufacturer Caudron, focusing its production in small airplanes, acquired a stake in Air France and partnered to establish the airmail company Air-Bleu. [33] Renault Caudron airplanes settled several speed world records during the 1930s. Renault continued developing tanks as part of France's rearming effort, including the D1 and the FT's replacement, the R 35.

During the late 1920s and early 1930s, Renault was surpassed by Citroën as the largest car manufacturer in France. Citroën models at the time were more innovative and popular than Renault's. However, by mid-1930s the French manufacturers were hit by the Great Depression. Renault could initially offset losses through its tractor, railroad and weaponry businesses while Citroën filed for bankruptcy and was later acquired by Michelin. [33] Renault became again the largest car manufacturer, a position it would keep until the 1980s. [33]

Renault was finally affected by the economic crisis in 1936. The company sold Caudron and spun off its foundry and aircraft engine divisions into related but autonomous operations, keeping its core automotive business. [33] Between 1936 and 1938, a series of labour disputes, strikes, and worker unrest spread throughout the French automobile industry. [35] The disputes were eventually quashed by Renault in a particularly intransigent way, and over 2,000 people lost their jobs. [35]

World War II and aftermath (1939–1944)

After the French capitulation in 1940, Louis Renault refused to produce tanks for Nazi Germany, which took control of his factories. He produced trucks instead. On 3 March 1942, the British Royal Air Force (RAF) launched 235 low-level bombers at the Billancourt plant, the largest number aimed at a single target during the war. 460 tons of bombs were dropped on the plant and the surrounding area, causing extensive damage along with heavy civilian casualties. Renault resolved to rebuild the factory as quickly as possible, but bombardments continued a year later, on 4 April, this time delivered by the Americans, and on 3 and 15 September 1943.

A few weeks after the Liberation of Paris, at the start of September 1944, the factory gates at Renault's Billancourt plant reopened. Operations restarted slowly, in an atmosphere poisoned by plotting and political conspiracy. In 1936 the Billancourt factory had been the scene of violent political and industrial unrest that had surfaced under Leon Blum's Popular Front government. The political jostling and violence that followed liberation ostensibly reflected the rivalries between capitalist collaboration and communist resistance, many of the scores settled predated the invasion.

Responding to the chaotic situation at Renault, a 27 September 1944 meeting of the Council of (the provisional government's) Ministers took place under de Gaulle's presidency. Postwar European politics had quickly become polarised between communists and anti-communists, and in France De Gaulle was keen to resist Communist Party attempts to monopolise the political dividends available to resistance heroes: politically Billancourt was a communist stronghold. The government decided to "requisition" the Renault factories. A week later, on 4 October Pierre Lefaucheux, a resistance leader with a background in engineering and top-level management, was appointed provisional administrator of the firm, assuming his responsibilities at once.

Meanwhile, the provisional government accused Louis Renault of collaborating with the Germans. In the frenzied atmosphere of those early post-liberation days, with many wild accusations, Renault was advised by his lawyers to present himself to a judge. He appeared before Judge Marcel Martin, on 22 September 1944 and was arrested on 23 September 1944, as were several other French auto-industry leaders. Renault's harsh handling of the 1936–1938 strikes had left him without political allies and no one came to his aid. He was incarcerated at Fresnes prison where he died on 24 October 1944 under unclear circumstances, [5] while awaiting trial. [6] [39]

On 1 January 1945, by de Gaulle's decree, the company was posthumously expropriated from Louis Renault. On 16 January 1945 it was formally nationalised as Régie Nationale des Usines Renault. Renault's were the only factories permanently expropriated by the French government. [40] In subsequent years, the Renault family tried to have the nationalisation rescinded by French courts and receive compensation. In 1945 and again in 1961 the Courts responded that they had no authority to review the government's actions.

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Renault Viva Grand Sport and Hélène Boucher. During the 1930s, Renault settled several speed world records with Caudron planes, thanks to its 6-cylinders engines and aerodynamic designs [31]

Postwar resurgence (1945–1971)

Under the leadership of Pierre Lefaucheux, Renault experienced both a commercial resurgence and labor unrest, that was ultimately to continue into the 1980s.

In secrecy during the war, Louis Renault had developed the rear engine 4CV which was subsequently launched under Lefacheux in 1946. Renault debuted its flagship model, the largely conventional 2-litre 4-cylinder Renault Frégate (1951–1960), shortly thereafter. The 4CV proved a capable rival for cars such as the Morris Minor and Volkswagen Beetle; its sales of more than half a million ensured its production until 1961.

After the success of the 4CV, Lefacheux continued to defy the postwar French Ministry of Industrial Production, which had wanted to convert Renault solely to truck manufacture, [9] by directing the development of its successor. He oversaw the prototyping of the Dauphine (until his death), enlisting the help of artist Paule Marrot in pioneering the company's textile and color division.

The Dauphine sold well as the company expanded production and sales further abroad, including Africa and North America. [42] The Dauphine sold well initially in the US, although it subsequently became outdated against increased competition, including from the country's nascent domestic compacts such as the Chevrolet Corvair. Renault also sold the Renault Caravelle roadster, which was called the Floride outside North America.

During the 1950s, Renault absorbed small French heavy vehicles' manufacturers (Somua and Latil) and in 1955 merged them with its own truck and bus division to form the Société Anonyme de Véhicules Industriels et d'Equipements Mécaniques (Saviem).

Renault then launched two successful cars – the Renault 4 (1961–1992), a practical competitor for the likes of the Citroën 2CV, and Renault 8. The larger rear-engined Renault 10 followed the success of the R8, and was the last rear-engined Renault. The company achieved success with the more modern and more upmarket Renault 16, a pioneering hatchback launched in 1966, followed by the smaller Renault 6.

On 16 January 1970 the manufacturer celebrated the 25th anniversary of its 1945 rebirth as the nationalised Régie Nationale des Usines Renault. The 1960s had been a decade of aggressive growth: a few months earlier, in October 1969, the manufacturer had launched the Renault 12, combining the engineering philosophy of its hatch-backs with the more conservative "three-box" design. The four-door Renault 12 model fit between the Renault 6 and Renault 16. The model was a success. 1970 was also the first year during which Renault produced more than a million cars in a single year, building 1,055,803.

Modern era (1972–1980)

The company's compact and economical Renault 5 model, launched in January 1972, was another success, anticipating the 1973 energy crisis. Throughout the 1970s the R4, R5, R6, R12, R15, R16 and R17 maintained Renault's production with new models including the Renault 18 and Renault 20.

During the mid seventies the already broad-based company diversified into more industries and continued to expand globally, including South East Asia. The energy crisis led Renault to again attempt to attack the North American market. Despite the Dauphine's success in the United States in the late 1950s and an unsuccessful assembly project in Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville, Quebec, (1964–72), Renault began to disappear from North America at the end of the decade.

Over the decades Renault had developed a collaborative partnership with Nash Motors Rambler and its successor American Motors Corporation (AMC). From 1962 to 1967, Renault assembled complete knock down (CKD) kits of the Rambler Classic sedans in its factory in Belgium. [43] Renault did not have large or luxury cars in its product line and the "Rambler Renault" was positioned as an alternative to the Mercedes-Benz "Fintail" cars. Later, Renault continued to make and sell a hybrid of AMC's Rambler American and Rambler Classic called the Renault Torino in Argentina (sold through IKA-Renault). Renault partnered with AMC on other projects, such as a rotary concept engine in the late 1960s.

In the late 1960s and 1970s the company established subsidiaries in Eastern Europe, most notably Dacia in Romania, and South America (many of which remain active) and forged technological cooperation agreements with Volvo and Peugeot, [283] (for instance, for the development of the PRV V6 engine, which was used in Renault 30, Peugeot 604, and Volvo 260 in the late 1970s).

In the mid-1960s Renault Australia was set up in Melbourne. The company produced and assembled models including the R8, R10, R12, R16, sporty R15, R17 coupe's, R18 and R20. The unit closed in 1981. Renault Australia also built and marketed Peugeots. From 1977, they assembled Ford Cortina station wagons under contract- the loss of this contract ended the factory.

When Peugeot acquired Citroën and formed PSA, the group's collaboration with Renault was reduced, although established joint production projects were maintained. Prior its merging with Peugeot, Citroën sold to Renault the truck and bus manufacturer Berliet in 1975, [283] merging it with its subsidiary Saviem in 1978 to create Renault Véhicules Industriels, which became the only French manufacturer of heavy commercial vehicles. In 1976, Renault reorganised the company into four business areas: automobiles (for car and light commercial vehicles or LCVs), finance and services, commercial vehicles (coaches and trucks over 2.5 tons GVW), and minor operations under an industrial enterprises division (farm machinery, plastics, foundry, etc.). In 1980, Renault produced 2,053,677 cars and LCVs. The cars at the time were the Renault 4, 5, 6, 7, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20 and 30; the LCVs were the 4, 5 and 12 Société and the Estafette. The company added 54,086 buses/coaches and trucks. [283]

In North America, Renault partnered with American Motors, lending AMC operating capital and buying a minority 22.5% stake in the company in late 1979. The first Renault model sold through AMC's dealerships was the R5, renamed Renault Le Car. Jeep was keeping AMC afloat until new products, particularly the XJ Cherokee, could be launched. When the bottom fell out of the 4×4 truck market in early 1980 AMC was in danger of bankruptcy. To protect its investment, Renault bailed AMC out with cash – at the price of a controlling 47.5% interest. Renault replaced some AMC executives, and Jose J. Dedeurwaerder of Renault became President of AMC.

The partnership resulted in the marketing of Jeep vehicles in Europe. The Jeep XJ Cherokee may have been a joint AMC/Renault project, since some early sketches of the XJ series were made in collaboration by Renault and AMC engineers (AMC insisted that the XJ Cherokee was designed by AMC personnel; even though a former Renault engineer designed the Quadra-Link front suspension for the XJ series). [45] The Jeep also used wheels and seats from Renault. Part of AMC's overall strategy was to save manufacturing cost by using Renault parts and engineering expertise when practical. This led to the improvement of the venerable AMC in-line six – a Renault/Bendix-based port electronic fuel injection system (usually called Renix) transformed it into a modern, competitive powerplant with a jump from 110 to 177 hp (82 to 132 kW) with less displacement (from 4.2L to 4.0L). The XJC Cherokee concept which was conceived in 1983 as a successor to the XJ series was also a joint collaboration with AMC and Renault engineers until the design was inherited by the Chrysler Corporation in late 1987 after Renault divested AMC - which debuted in 1989 as the Jeep Concept 1 (evolving into the Jeep Grand Cherokee in April 1992).

The Renault-AMC marketing effort in passenger cars was not successful compared to the popularity for Jeep vehicles. This was because by the time the Renault range was ready, the second energy crisis was over, taking with it much of the desire for economical, compact cars. One exception was the Renault Alliance (an Americanised version of the Renault 9), which debuted for the 1983 model year. Assembled at AMC's Kenosha, Wisconsin plant, the Alliance received Motor Trend's domestic Car of The Year award in 1983. [46] The Alliance's 72% U.S. content allowed it to qualify as a domestic vehicle, making it the first car with a foreign nameplate to win the award. (In 2000, Motor Trend did away with separate awards for domestic and imported vehicles.)

US releases in the 1980s included the Renault Alliance GTA and GTA convertible – an automatic-top convertible with a 2.0 L engine – big for a car of its class and the Renault Fuego coupe. The Alliance was followed by the Encore (U.S. version of the Renault 11), an Alliance-based hatchback. In 1982 Renault become the second European automaker to build cars in the United States, after Volkswagen. However, Renaults quickly became the target of customer complaints for poor quality and sales plummeted.

Eventually, Renault sold AMC to Chrysler in 1987 after the assassination of Renault's chairman, Georges Besse. The Renault Medallion (Renault 21 in Europe) sedan and wagon was sold from 1987 to 1989 through Jeep-Eagle dealerships. Jeep-Eagle was the division Chrysler created out of the former American Motors. Renault imports ended after 1989. A completely new full-sized 4-door sedan, the Eagle Premier, was developed during the partnership between AMC and Renault. The Premier design, as well as its state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Bramalea, Ontario, Canada, were the starting point for the sleek LH sedans such as the Eagle Vision and Chrysler 300M.

In early 1979, as part of its attempts to expand into the American market, Renault bought a 20% minority stake in the truck manufacturer Mack Trucks. The aim of this operation was to make use of the company's extensive delearship network to distribute light trucks. [6] In 1983, Renault increased its stake in Mack Trucks to 44.6%. [6] In 1987, it transferred the ownership of a 42% stake to Renault Véhicules Industriels. [24]

In the late seventies and early eighties Renault increased its involvement in motorsport, with novel inventions such as turbochargers in their Formula One cars. Renault's head of engines, Georges Douin, orchestrated the installation of turbocharged engines across much of the Renault range beginning in 1980. 10% of all turbocharged European cars in 1984 were Renaults. The company's road car designs were revolutionary in other ways also – the Renault Espace was one of the first minivans and was to remain the most well-known minivan in Europe for the next two decades. The second-generation Renault 5, the European Car of the Year-winning Renault 9, and the most luxurious Renault yet, the aerodynamic 25 were all released in the early 1980s. At the same time poor product quality damaged the brand. The ill-fated Renault 14 may have been the culmination of these problems in the early 1980s.

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1964 Renault R8 Gordini was the first sportive compact car for a public consumption price.
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Renault 5 Turbo
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1974 Renault 17 coupe

Restructuring (1981–1995)

Renaults were somewhat successful on both road and track, including the 1984 Espace launch, which was Europe's first multi-purpose vehicle, a dozen years before any competitor. However, Renault was losing a billion francs a month totaling 12.5 billion in 1984. The government intervened and Georges Besse was installed as chairman; he set about cutting costs dramatically, selling many of Renault's non-core assets (Volvo stake, Gitane, Eurocar and Renix), withdrawing almost entirely from motorsports and laying off many employees. [284] This halved the deficit by 1986, but Besse was murdered by the communist terrorist group Action Directe in November 1986. He was replaced by Raymond Lévy, who continued Besse's initiatives, slimming the company enough that by the end of 1987, Renault was more or less financially stable. However, while Besse was convinced that Renault needed a presence in the North American market and wanted to push forward with restructuring American Motors, Lévy, facing domestic losses from Renault at home, and losses from American Motors in the United States, along with the political climate that led to Besse's assassination, decided to sell American Motors to Chrysler that same year.

The Renault 9, a small four-door family saloon, was voted European Car of the Year on its 1981 launch. It sold well in France, but was eventually eclipsed by the Renault 11 hatchback, as the hatchback bodystyle became more popular on this size of car. The Renault 5 entered its second generation in 1984 and continued to sell well. The long-running Renault 18 was replaced by the Renault 21 early in 1986, adding a seven-seater estate badged as the Nevada or Savanna depending on where it was sold. Renault's top of the range model in the 1980s was the Renault 25, launched at the end of 1983.

In 1990, Renault strengthened its collaboration with Volvo by signing an agreement that allowed both companies to reduce vehicle conception costs and purchasing expenses. Renault had access to Volvo expertise in upper market segments and in return Volvo exploited Renault designs for low and medium segments. In 1993 the two companies announced their intention to merge operations by 1 January 1994 and increased their cross-shareholding. The French accepted the merger, while Volvo shareholders rejected it. [284]

A revitalised Renault launched successful new cars in the early 1990s, accompanied by an improved marketing effort on European markets, [284] including the 5 replacement, the Clio in May 1990. The Clio was the first new model of a generation that replaced numeric identifiers with traditional nameplates. The Clio was voted European Car of the Year soon after its launch, and was one of Europe's best selling cars in the 1990s, proving even more popular than its predecessor. Other important launches included the third-generation Espace in 1996 and the innovative Twingo in 1992, the first car to be marketed as a city car MPV. The Twingo was roomier than any prior cars of its size range. Twingo sales reached 2.4 million in Europe, even though the original was only built for (Continental) left-hand drive markets. [24]

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The Renault Fuego won 8 consecutive championships in the TC 2000 touring car racing series between 1986 and 1993
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1985 Renault Espace, the first European multi-purpose vehicle
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Renault Twingo popularized the city car in Europe from 1992. Six years later, most of its rivals began to enter the city car market.

Privatisation and the alliance era (1996–present)

It was eventually decided that the company's state-owned status was a detriment. By 1994 plans to sell shares to public investors were officially announced. [284] The company was privatised in 1996. This new freedom allowed the company to venture once again into markets in Eastern Europe and South America, including a new factory in Brazil and upgrades for its infrastructure in Argentina and Turkey. In December 1996 General Motors Europe and Renault begun to collaborate in the development of LCVs, starting with the second generation Trafic (codenamed X83). [24]

Renault's financial problems were not all fixed by the privatisation, and Renault's President, Louis Schweitzer gave to his then deputy, Carlos Ghosn, the task of confronting them. Ghosn elaborated a plan to cut costs for the period 1998–2000, reducing the workforce, revising production processes, standardising vehicle parts and pushing the launch of new models. The company also undertook organisational changes, introducing a lean production system with delegate responsibilities inspired by Japanese systems (the "Renault Production Way"), reforming work methods and centralising research and development at its Technocentre to reduce vehicle conception costs while accelerating such conception. [284]

After Volvo's exit, Renault searched for a new partner to cope with an industry that was consolidating. Talks with BMW, Mitsubishi, Nissan, PSA and others were held yielded a relationship with Nissan, whose negotiations with Daimler had stalled. [24] Signed on 27 March 1999, the Renault–Nissan Alliance is the first of its kind involving a Japanese and a French company, including cross-ownership. Renault initially acquired a 36.8% stake at a cost of US$3.5 billion in Nissan, while Nissan in turn took a 15% non-voting stake in Renault. Renault continued to operate as a stand-alone company, but with the intent to collaborate with its alliance partner to reduce costs. The same year Renault bought a 51% majority stake of the Romanian company Dacia, thus returning after 30 years, in which time the Romanians had built over 2 million cars that primarily consisted of local version of Renaults 8, 12 and 20. In 2000, Renault acquired a controlling stake of the South Korean Samsung Group's automotive division.

In Japan, Renault was formerly licensed by Yanase Co., Ltd., Japan’s premier seller of imported cars. However as a result of Renault's purchase of interest in Nissan in 1999, Yanase canceled its licensing contract with Renault in the spring of 2000, and Nissan Motor Co., Ltd took over as the sole licensee, hence sales of Renault vehicles in Japan were transferred from Yanase Store locations Nissan Red Stage Store locations.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Renault sold various assets to finance its inversions and acquisitions, [36] refocusing itself as a car and van manufacturer. In 1999, the company sold its industrial automation subsidiary, Renault Automation, to Comau and its engine parts division to TWR Engine Components. [36] In 2001, Renault sold its 50% stake in bus/coach manufacturer Irisbus to co-owner Iveco and its logistics subsidiary CAT France to Global Automotive Logistics. [36] Following the sale of Renault Véhicules Industriels to Volvo in 2001, the company retained a minority (but controlling) stake (20%) in the Volvo Group. In 2010 Renault reduced its participation to 6.5% and in December 2012 sold its remaining shares. In 2004, Renault sold a 51% majority stake in its agricultural machinery division, Renault Agriculture, to CLAAS. In 2006, CLAAS increased its ownership to 80% and in 2008 took full control.

In the twenty-first century, Renault developed a reputation for distinctive, outlandish design. The second generation of the Laguna and Mégane featured ambitious, angular designs that turned out to be successful, The 2000 Laguna was the second European car to feature "keyless" entry and ignition. Less successful were the company's more upmarket models. The Avantime, a unique coupé / multi-purpose vehicle, sold poorly and was quickly discontinued while the luxury Vel Satis model also disappointed. However, the design inspired the lines of the second-generation Mégane, the maker's most successful car. As well as its distinctive styling, Renault was to become known for its car safety by the independent company EuroNCAP [62] Thus, in 2001, the Laguna achieved a 5-star rating, [62] followed in 2004 by the Modus.

In April 2010, Renault-Nissan announced an alliance with Daimler. Renault supplied Mercedes-Benz with its brand new 1.6 L turbodiesel engine and Mercedes-Benz provided a 2.0 L four-cylinder petrol engine to Renault-Nissan. The resulting new alliance was to develop a replacement for the Smart based on the Twingo.

In February 2010, Renault opened a new production factory near Tangier, Morocco, with an annual output capacity of 170,000 vehicles. Initially, it manufactured the Dacia Lodgy and Dacia Dokker models followed in October 2013 [67] by the second generation Dacia Sandero. The output capacity increased to 340,000 vehicles per year with the inauguration of a second production line. [68] The site is located in a dedicated free trade area, neighboring Tanger Automotive City. [69] According to Renault, the new factory emits zero carbon and industrial liquid discharges. [70] Over 100,000 vehicles were produced there in 2013. Renault expects to eventually increase production at the Tangier plant to 400,000 vehicles per year. [4]

In December 2012 the Algeria's National Investment Fund (FNI), the Société Nationale de Véhicules Industriels (SNVI), and Renault signed an agreement to establish a factory near the city of Oran, Algeria, with the aim of manufacturing Symbol units from 2014 onwards. The production output was estimated at 25,000 vehicles. The Algerian State has a 51% stake in the facility. [73]

In September 2013, Renault launched its brand in Indonesia, the world's fourth most populous country, with the aim of becoming one of the top European brands there until 2016. The model range at the time of the launch consisted of the Duster (locally assembled), the Koleos and the Mégane RS. [74] Later, the Clio and the Captur were also added. [75]

In April 2015, the French government upped their stake in Renault to 19.73 percent with the aim of blocking a resolution at the next annual general meeting that could reduce its control over the company.

During 2016, Renault changed position on the viability of small diesel cars in Europe, as they become significantly more expensive when re-engineered to comply with new emissions regulations as a result of the Volkswagen emissions scandal. Renault believes that all small and some mid-size will no longer be diesels by 2020. [287] However, on Friday, 13 January 2017, Renault shares fell as the Paris prosecutor started an investigation into possible exhaust emissions cheating. [288] [289] Renault denied any foul play, stating compliance with French and European standards. [290]

On 12 May 2017, one of the Renault manufacturing plants' computer networks was attacked by a malware known as WannaCry which was found to be something critical, causing it being shut down for one day. The production of at least 1,200 vehicles was halted.

Innovations

  • 1899: Louis Renault "Driving, speed-changing mechanism and reversing gear" [77] Louis Renault invented a revolutionary direct drive gear [78] with no drive belt, with much better uphill performances.
  • 1963: Renault 8 was the first serial car with four-wheel disc brake system
  • 1980: First patents for "Braking distribution device for total adherence" [79] · [80]
  • 1988: CARMINAT, a real-time system for location and weather information. This program received European support from 1988, under the code Eureka EU-55 CARMINAT. [81] These innovations for the real-time location and human-machine interfaces are included in the Renault R-link system and Carminat Tom-Tom devices.

Motorsport

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Renault Scenic, awarded Car of the year in Europe in 1997 and the first [10] car to be marketed as a compact MPV, is the most popular MPV in Europe for 20 years. [10]

Renault took part in motorsport at the beginning of the 20th century, promoted by Marcel Renault's racing interests and over the years acquired companies with a sporting connection such as Gordini and Alpine.

In the seventies, Renault set up a dedicated motorsport division called Renault Sport, and won the Le Mans 24 Hours with the Renault Alpine A442 in 1978. Renault achieved success in both rallying and in Formula One over decades.

The company has also backed various one-make single-seater series such as Formula Renault and the Formula Renault 3.5. These two racing series were a step in the career of thousands of drivers, including Formula One champions Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Räikkönen [130] or Lewis Hamilton [130] or IndyCar champion Will Power. [130]

Renault Sport develops and manufactures the Renault Sport-badged cars, [130] as the Renault Clio RS (for Renault Sport) and the Renault Mégane RS, which own the world records in their categories, such as the Nürburgring, [130] and the Suzuka circuit and awards from What Car?, [130] Evo, and other magazines.

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Renault Clio IV, 5 doors or estate, named European Car of the Year in 2006
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The Renault Captur is the best seller SUV in Europe [24] since its first commercialization month in 2013. [24]
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2015 Renault Espace V, a crossover mixing elements of SUVs and MPVs
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1907 Renault-built Replica of their French Grand Prix winner, one of 4 known to exist

Formula One

Renault introduced the turbo engine to Formula One when they debuted their first car, the Renault RS01 at Silverstone in 1977. The Renault team continued until 1986. From 1989 Renault supplied engines to the successful Williams-Renault car.

Renault took over the Benetton Formula team in 2000 [130] for the 2001 season and renamed it Renault F1 in 2002. In 2005 and 2006 the team won the Constructors' and Drivers' titles (with Fernando Alonso). [130] At the 2005 French Grand Prix Carlos Ghosn set out his policy regarding the company's involvement in motorsport:

"We are not in Formula One out of habit or tradition. We're here to show our talent and that we can do it properly ... Formula One is a cost if you don't get the results. Formula One is an investment if you do have them and know how to exploit them."

Renault powered the winning 2010 Red Bull Racing team, and took a similar role with its old team in December 2010, when it sold its final stake to the investment group Genii Capital, the main stakeholder [130] since December 2009, [130] ending Renault's direct role in running a F1 team for the second time. [130] Renault returned to F1 as a works team for the 2016 season. [9] [292]

Rallying

Renault has been involved in rallying from an early era. Marcel Renault won the 1902 Rallye Paris-Vienna, but lost his life while competing in the 1903 Paris-Madrid rally. [293]

During the 1950s and 1960s, Renault manufactured several small cars with rear wheel drive in some cases, as the 4CV, the R8 or the Dauphine. These cars were well-adapted to the rally of the time, and the tuner Amedee Gordini collaborated with its performance. [293] In the 1950s the Renault Dauphine won several international rallies, including the 1956 Mille Miglia and the 1958 Monte Carlo Rally. [95]

In 1973, Renault took control of Automobiles Alpine, a related company for several years, which was responsible for building successful rally cars such as the A110. [294] A highly evolved A110 won the first World Rally Championship, representing Alpine-Renault. [293]

In 1976, the Alpine's competition department and the Gordini factory at Viry-Chatillon were merged into Renault Sport. [294] The focus shifted to Formula One, although Renault achieved several victories including the 1981 Monte Carlo Rally with the Renault 5 Turbo [95] before retirement from the world rally in late 1994. [293]

Renault cars also participate of cross-country races, most prominently the Dakar Rally. The Marreau brothers won the 1982 edition driving a Renault 20 Turbo 4x4 prototype. [130]

Later, Renault provided a Renault Megane platform and sponsored the Schlesser -Renault Elf buggies that won the 1999 [130] and 2000 editions. [130] The 1999 car was the first two-wheel drive Dakar's winner. [130]

Renaults won the European Rally Championship four times, in 1970, 1999, 2004 and 2005. [130]

Corporate governance

Renault's head office is in Boulogne-Billancourt. [297] The head office is located near the old Renault factories; Renault has maintained a historical presence in Boulogne-Billancourt [130] since the company's opening in 1898. [297]

Renault is administered through a board of directors, an executive committee and a management committee. [108] As of May 2014, members of the 19-seat board include Carlos Ghosn, Alain J. P. Belda, Charles de Croisset, Thierry Desmarest, Yuriko Koike, Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière, Franck Riboud and Pascale Sourisse. [130]

Products and technologies

Current models

Current model line up, with calendar year of introduction or most recent facelift: [130]

Concept cars

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Renault has twelve F1 Championships wins as engine manufacturer in Formula One. [10] Nigel Mansell, Damon Hill, Michael Schumacher, Alain Prost, Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel and Jacques Villeneuve won eleven F1 driver's titles with cars powered by Renault engines.

Renault's concept cars show future design and technology directions. Since 2008 Renault has displayed various all-electric car concepts under the name "Z.E.", for zero emission, starting with a concept based on the Renault Kangoo Be Bop. Further concepts and announcements followed, with production of the Fluence Z.E. saloon beginning in 2011 and the Renault Zoe in 2012.

Renault revealed the Ondelios hybrid concept in 2008. [130] [130] but this was overtaken by the Z.E. programme. However, Renault presented a new hybrid car in September 2014, the Eolab, which incorporates various innovations that the company said will be added to production models by 2020. [130]

In 2014 at the New Delhi Auto Show, Renault announced a new model, the Kwid Concept, which comes with helicopter drone. [115]

Electric vehicle

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Fernando Alonso driving for Renault F1 at Indianapolis in 2005, the year in which the Renault team won the first of their two Formula One championships

In 2013, Renault became the leader of electric vehicles sales in Europe, thanks to its large range of vehicles (Twizy, Zoe, Fluence, Kangoo). [130]

Beginning in 2008, Renault made agreements for its planned zero-emissions products, including with Israel, Portugal, Denmark and the US states of Tennessee and Oregon, [117] Yokohama in Japan and the Principality of Monaco. [130] Serge Yoccoz is the electric vehicle project director. [130]

In 2008, Renault-Nissan signed a deal to produce electric cars for an initiative in Israel with Better Place, a US company developing new non-petroleum–based transport infrastructure. Renault aimed to sell 10–20,000 cars a year in Israel. Renault also agreed to develop exchangeable batteries for the project. [130] Renault collaborated with Better Place to produce a network of all-electric vehicles and thousands of charging stations in Denmark, planned to be operational by 2011. [130] The Renault Fluence Z.E., [130] was selected for the Israel project. It became the first zero-emission vehicle with a switchable battery, [123] with trials in 2010 undertaken with the Renault Laguna. Renault ended the partnership in 2013, following Better Place's bankruptcy, with only 1000 vehicle sales in Israel and 240 in Denmark. [130]

Renault-Nissan and the largest French electric utility, Electricite de France (EDF) signed an agreement to promote electric vehicles in France. The partnership planned to pilot projects on battery management and charging infrastructure. [130] Renault-Nissan also signed deals with Ireland's ESB, [130] and in Milton Keynes as part of the UK's Plugged in Places national project. [130]

According to Ghosn, the Renault-Nissan alliance was a fundamental step in electric car development, and that they needed each other for other issues such as battery manufacturing, charging infrastructure and business strategy. [128]

The Renault-Nissan group is a member of the PHEV Research Center.

In September 2013, Renault and Bolloré announced an agreement to collaborate on a new electric vehicle and in car-sharing project. [130]

The Renault Zoe, with 18,453 registrations, was the top selling all- electric car in Europe in 2015. [130] [130] With 11,873 units sold during the first half of 2016, the Zoe continued to rank as the top selling plug-in electric car in Europe. [303] [130] Global Zoe sales achieved the 50,000 unit milestone in June 2016. [303] Groupe Renault global electric vehicle sales passed the 100,000 unit milestone in September 2016, with Zoe sales representing 54%, the Kangoo Z.E. with 24%, the Twizy with 18% and the Fluence Z.E. and its Korean rebadged Samsung SM3 Z.E. together representing 4%. [305] [130]

Eco²

In 2007 Renault introduced a new line of eco-friendly derivatives marked eco² that were based on production platforms. A minimum of 5% recycled plastic was used and the vehicle's materials were 95% reusable. Eco²'s CO 2 emissions were not to exceed 140g/km, or would be biofuel compatible. [130] At the 2008 Fleet World Honours, Renault received the Environment Award. The chairman of Judges, George Emmerson, commented, "This was the most hotly contested category in the history of the Fleet World Honours, such is the clamour for organizations' green credentials to be recognised. There were some very impressive entries, but the panel felt that Renault's impressive range of low-emission vehicles was the most tangible, and the most quantifiable. [130]

The R-Link infotainment system, developed by Renault and the CCETT labs during the 1980s, [81] produced with TomTom and fitted in Renault's vehicles, was ranked first in a user accessibility study performed by an independent consulting British company SBD in Europe, R-Link getting 85% of the users' satisfaction, whereas the second "big five" automotive maker got a 10% lower satisfaction from the users. [132] [130]

Autonomous vehicles

Renault plans to introduce autonomous vehicle technology by 2020. The company unveiled a prototype, the Next Two (based on the Zoe), in February 2014. [130]

Vehicle design

Design

The "pre-design" era

During its early years, Renault only manufactured the cars' chassis, while the bodywork was in charge of coachbuilders. The first car with Renault's bodywork was the "Taxi de la Marne" introduced in 1905. [135] Most Renault-made bodyworks were simple and utilitarian until the Reinastella unveiling in 1928. In the 1930s, Renault developed streamlined cars as the Viva Grand Sport. In the 1950s the company worked with Ghia designers.

Renault Styling

In 1961, with the assistance of the independent designer Philippe Charbonneaux (responsible for the R8), the company created Renault Styling as a design department, led by Gaston Juchet since 1963. In 1975, Robert Opron was named chief designer and Renault Styling was divided into Interior, Exterior and Advanced Design groups. [135]

In the 1960s an in-house CAD CAM system called UNISURF was introduced, led by Pierre Bézier (who popularised Bézier curves and worked at Renault from 1933 to 1975).

Industrial Design Department

In 1987, Renault named Patrick le Quément as chief designer [137] and created the Industrial Design Department to replace Renault Styling. The new division incorporated a new management system, with more technology and personnel. Renault gave it the same importance as Engineering and Product Planning, participating in product development. [135]

Le Quément was responsible for bold designs such as the Mégane II and the Vel Satis, [130] giving Renault a more coherent and stylish image. [130] In 1995, Design and Quality were merged under le Quément's direction. [135] [137] Later, the new department moved to Guyancourt's Technocentre, which also became the base for Engineering and Product Planning. the group was organized in three sections: Automobile Design; Truck, LCV and Bus Design; and Concept Cars and Advanced Design. During the next years satellite centres opened in Spain (1999), Paris (2000), South Korea (2003), Romania (2007), India (2007) [135] and Brazil (2008). [130]

At the end of 2009, le Quément was replaced by Laurens van den Acker, [137] who introduced the "cycle of life" concept to Renault's design. [130]

Engineering and Product Planning

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Renault Megane RS III

Most of Renault engineering was decentralised until 1998, when the Technocentre became the main Renault's engineering facility. [284] [143] Satellite centres exist, including Renault Technologies Americas (with branches in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Mexico), Renault Technologies Romania (branches in Morocco, Russia, Slovenia and Turkey) and Renault Technologies Spain (branch in Portugal). [130] As of 2013, Renault's engineering section had over 6500 employees worldwide, of which 34% were engineers and 63% technicians. [130] Engine development is in charge of a specific division, Renault Powertrains, with nearly 65 engineers. [130] Overseas engineering is increasing and R&D teams are in charge of adjusting existing vehicles to local needs and budgets. [130]

As of 2014 Engineering and Product Planning are directed by Gaspar Gascon Abellan [130] and Philippe Klein [130] respectively.

Technocentre

The Renault Technocentre ( French pronunciation: [ʁəno tɛknɔˈsɑ̃tʁ] )) is the main research and development facility. It is located in Guyancourt. It covers 150 hectares [130] and integrates all departments involved in developing products and industrial processes (design, engineering and product planning) as well as supplier representatives. The Technocentre gathers more than 8000 employees [130] and comprises three main sections, The Advance Precinct, The Hive and the prototype build centre. The Advance Precinct, a stepped structure surrounded by a lake, has design studios and other departments related to early design stages. The Hive is the tallest structure and includes research and engineering facilities dedicated to the development process of new vehicles. The prototype build centre is an extension of The Hive. The three main structures are accompanied by smaller technical buildings. [143]

The Technocentre was one of the first enterprises to have real-time life-size 3D modelling systems. [130]

Renault Tech

Renault Tech is a division of Renault Sport Technologies, headquartered in Les Ulis. It was established in 2008 and is in charge of modifying cars and vans for special purposes (transporting people with reduced mobility, driving school cars, business fleets). [130] [130]

Subsidiaries and alliances

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Renault Eolab, a 1l/100km hybrid concept car

Subsidiaries

AvtoVAZ

In February 2008 Renault acquired a 25% share in AvtoVAZ, known for its Lada range of vehicles. [130] VAZ had been seeking a strategic partner since the late nineties. After severing its original ties with Fiat, the company had little success in forming an alliance with various firms.

Renault began off and on in talks with AvtoVAZ in 2005, initially insisting that CKD assemble Logans at its facilities, while VAZ intended to keep its own Lada brand and sought only a new platform and engine. After several rounds of talks, interrupted by VAZ's attempts to ally with Fiat and Magna, Renault agreed to the partnership under terms similar to its Nissan deal. Renault and Rosoboronexport, the state corporation that is a major stockholder of VAZ, discussed Renault increasing its stake in VAZ to 50%. [130] Following a AvtoVAZ recapitalisation in 2016, Renault holds over 50% of the company, making it a subsidiary. [309]

Dacia

In 1999, Renault acquired a 51% controlling stake from the Romanian-based manufacturer Automobile Dacia, which increased to 99.43%. [130] As part of the Renault group, Dacia is a regional marque of entry-levels cars focused on Europe and Northern Africa which shares various models with the Renault marque. [280]

Renault Samsung Motors

Renault acquired the car division of Samsung on 1 September 2000 in a $560 million deal for 70% of the company, [130] eventually rising its stake to 80.1%. [130] Renault Samsung Motors is a marque used almost exclusively in South Korea (although some models are sold in Chile). The majority of the company's production at its Busan plant is exported under the Renault badge. [130]

RCI Banque

RCI Banque is a wholly owned subsidiary that provides financial services for Renault marques worldwide and Nissan marques in Europe, Russia and South America. [130] [130]

Renault Retail Group

Renault Retail Group is Renault's wholly owned automobile distributor for Europe. [181] In 1997, the French branches were merged to establish the subsidiary Renault France Automobiles (RFA). In 2001, it served as the basis for Renault Europe Automobiles (REA), which managed sales in Europe. [130] In 2008, the company adopted its current name. [130] Renault Retail Group operates in France, Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. [181]

Manufacturing subsidiaries

French factories
Manufacturing subsidiaries outside France

Alliances

Renault-Nissan

Renault has a 43.4% stake in Nissan, and Nissan holds a 15% stake (with no voting rights) in Renault, thereby giving it effective control. Renault has a 50% stake in the joint venture Renault-Nissan b.v., which was established to manage the Renault-Nissan alliance. The company is responsible for the management of two joint companies, RNPO (Renault Nissan Purchasing Organization) and RNIS (Renault-Nissan Information Services). Combined vehicle sales in 2008 reached 6.9 million (including AvtoVAZ), making the Renault-Nissan Alliance the world's third-largest automotive group.

As well as sharing engines and joint-development of zero-emissions technology, Nissan increased its presence in Europe by badging various Renault van models such as the Renault Kangoo / Nissan Kubistar, Renault Master / Nissan Interstar and the Renault Trafic / Nissan Primastar. Some passenger cars have also been badged-engineered, such as the Renault Clio-based Nissan Platina in Brazil. The "Renault Production System" standard used by all Renault factories borrowed extensively from the "Nissan Production Way" and resulted in Renault productivity improving by 15%. The alliance led to the loss of 21,000 jobs, the closure of three assembly and two powertrain plants.

In March 2010 the Renault-Nissan alliance opened its first joint facility in Chennai, India, investing 45 billion rupees (US$991.1 million). The facility builds the Nissan Micra. The Renault Fluence and Renault Koleos are intended to be assembled there from completely knocked-down units. As a result of opening its own factory, Renault ended its five-year Mahindra Renault joint venture with Mahindra & Mahindra company to make and sell the Renault Logan in India.

Renault-Nissan and Daimler alliance

On 7 April 2010 Ghosn and Daimler AG CEO Dieter Zetsche announced a partnership between the three companies. Daimler acquired a 3.1 per cent stake in Renault-Nissan and Renault and Nissan each took a 1.55 per cent stake in Daimler.

American Motors

In 1979, Renault entered into an agreement with American Motors Corporation (AMC) to sell cars in the US. A year later, Renault acquired a 22.5% interest in AMC. [51] This was not the first time the two companies had worked together. In the early 1960s, Renault assembled CKD kits and marketed Ramblers in France. In 1982, Renault increased its stake in AMC to 46.4%. The Renault Alliance/Encore (a modified version of the Renault 9 and 11) entered production in the US, but following AMC's continued decline, Renault withdrew from the US in 1987 and sold its share to Chrysler. [178]

Proposed alliances

On 30 June 2006, the media reported that General Motors convened an emergency board meeting to discuss a proposal by shareholder Kirk Kerkorian to form an alliance with Renault- Nissan. However, GM CEO Richard Wagoner felt that an alliance would disproportionaely benefit Renault's shareholders and that GM should receive compensation accordingly. Talks between GM and Renault ended on 4 October 2006.

In 2007, Renault-Nissan entered talks with Indian manufacturer Bajaj Auto to develop a new ultra-low-cost car along the lines of the Tata Nano. Renault's existing partner in India, Mahindra, was not interested in the project. The proposed joint venture did not come to fruition and in late 2009 they companies announced that Bajaj would develop and manufacturer the vehicle and supply Renault-Nissan with completed cars. [198]

On 7 October 2008 a Renault executive said the company was interested in acquiring or partnering with Chrysler. [199] On 11 October 2008, the New York Times reported that General Motors, Nissan and Renault had all been in discussions over the past month with Chrysler's owner Cerberus Capital Management about acquiring Chrysler.

United Kingdom

In 2014, two Renault models were among the most numerous on British roads: the Clio (ranked 6th by total number) and the Mégane (ranked 10th). [201]

1970s, 1980s, 1990s

The first Renaults to sustain sales in the UK were the Renault 5 and Renault 18, both of which attained six-digit sales figures during the late 1970s and early 1980s.

In 1980, Renault commissioned British architect Norman Foster, to build the Renault Centre, an award-winning [3] office and distribution centre in Swindon. It was easily identified by the extensive use of the corporate Renault yellow.

Renault enjoyed greater popularity with the arrival of the Clio supermini in March 1991. It was regularly among the best sellers during the 1990s. The successor (launched in 1998, alongside the final instalment of the successful " Papa & Nicole " advertising campaign), [203] continued its success. The sedan/saloon version, Thalia, was not launched in the United Kingdom.

Renault introduced the Mégane in April 1996 to steady sales, although it failed to reach the top ten during the first two years. In 1998, however, sales grew, making it Britain's sixth-best selling car and the second most popular in its sector. [5]

2000s

In 2006 Renault was Britain's third most popular brand, surpassed only by Ford and Vauxhall. [205]

In November 2007, Renault UK lost a US$2 million lawsuit against an independent distributor, who had placed orders for 217 cars under a discount scheme. This was intended for members of the British Airline Pilots Association. Three were legitimate, because they had "made a profit of some sort on every vehicle". Two Renault employees were criticised, for having "turned a blind eye" to the very large number of orders.

In 2008 Renault sales started declining, and the marque fell to the eighth most popular, with 89,570 sales (down 29% compared to 2007) [5] and considerably less than 2002's 194,685 sales. [5] Renault suffered more than most main brands during 2009, as the recession deepened and ended the year with 63,174 sales, and a reduced 3.17% market share.

During 2010, however, as the economy returned to growth, Renault sold more than 95,000 cars and increased its market share to 4.71%, [5] before falling again in 2011 to 68,449, yielding a 3.53 per cent market share. [5] In December 2011, Renault announced that the Laguna, Espace, Kangoo, Modus, and Wind lines would be discontinued as a cost-cutting measure, while 55 of its 190 British dealerships would close. [5] [5] By 2014 Renault sales outperformed the market overall growth with a 41.9% increase, [5] in spite of a range limited to the Clio, Captur, Mégane, Zoe, Scénic, Kangoo, Twizy and the third-generation Twingo, launched at the end of 2014. [214]

Awards

Renault models have won the European Car of the Year award six times in the last forty years:

Renault cars have won numerous national-level awards in Spain, Australia, Ireland, the United States, [46] [38] Denmark, and elsewhere. Renault and its Dacia subsidiary have won three "Autobest" car of the year awards for the Duster, Logan, and Symbol models. [222]

Marketing and branding

Renault markets its products under five marques: Renault, Lada, Dacia, Renault Samsung Motors, and Alpine. [311]

Renault badge

Renault's first badge was introduced in 1900 and consisted in the Renault brothers' intertwined initials. When the company started mass production in 1906, it adopted a gear-shaped logo with a car inside it. After World War I the company used a logo depicting an FT tank. In 1923 it introduced a new circle-shaped badge, which was replaced by the "diamond" or lozenge in 1925. [223] The lozenge of Renault means a diamond that expresses the brand's firm desire to project a strong and consistent corporate image. [224]

The Renault diamond logo has been through many iterations. [223] To modernise its image, Renault asked Victor Vasarely to design its new logo in 1972. The transformed logo maintained the diamond shape. The design was later revised to reflect the more rounded lines of the brand's new styling cues. [225] The current badge has been in use since 1992.

The logo for web and print use was updated three times thereafter. In 2004 a more realistic representation inside a yellow square with the word "Renault" in Renault Identité typeface besides it was incorporated. In 2007, Saguez & Partners produced a version with the word "Renault" inside the yellow square. [223] [226]

In April 2015, Renault introduced new designs to differentiate the company from the product brand, as part of the 'Passion for life' campaign. The new brand logo replaced the yellow background with a yellow stripe. A new typeface was also introduced. A corporate logo was unveiled at the 2015 Annual General Meeting, incorporating Renault, Dacia and Renault Samsung Motors. [227] [312]

The yellow associated with the company appeared initially in the diamond badge of 1946, when Renault was nationalised. [223] [224]

Typeface

Renault MN

Both the Renault logo and its documentation (technical as well as commercial) historically used Renault MN, a custom typeface developed by British firm Wolff Olins. This type family is said to have been designed mainly to save costs at a time where the use of typefaces was costly.

A retail version of the font family was sold by URW++ as Renault. [313]

Renault Identité

In 2004, French typeface designer Jean-François Porchez was commissioned to design a replacement. This was shown in October of that year and was called Renault Identité. [228] The OpenType font family was developed from the Renault logotype created by Éric de Berranger. [314] [315]

Helvetica

Since 2007, as part of the Saguez & Partners revamp, all graphic advertising makes use of Helvetica Neue Condensed. [25]

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Renault España offices in Madrid

Renault Life

The Renault Life font family was built by Fontsmith Limited, based on the foundry's FS Hackney font family. [25]

The family consists of six fonts in three weights (Life, Regular, and Bold) and one width, with complimentary italic.

L'Atelier Renault Paris

Renault's flagship showroom, L'Atelier Renault ( French pronunciation: [latəlje ʁəno] ), is located on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, with other manufacturers such as Peugeot, Citroën and Toyota. It opened in November 2000, located on the site of Pub Renault, which operated from 1963 to 1999. The first Renault venue at the location was the Magasin Renault in 1910, a pioneering car showroom. [25] [25]

L'Atelier features a Renault Boutique as well as regular exhibitions featuring Renault and Dacia cars. An upmarket restaurant is located on the second floor, looking out onto the Champs-Élysées. The ground floor can hold up to five exhibitions at any one time. As of March 2009, 20 million visitors had visited L'Atelier Renault. [25] [25] [25]

Renault Classic

Renault Classic is a department within Renault that seeks to collect, preserve and exhibit notable vehicles from the company's history. Originally named Histoire & Collection, the collection was assembled in 2002 and its workshops formally opened on 24 April 2003. [233]

Music

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Renault's European advertising made extensive use of Robert Palmer's song " Johnny and Mary ". [25] Television advertisements initially used Palmer's original version, while a range of special recordings in different styles were produced during the 1990s, most famously the acoustic interpretation by Martin Taylor that he released on his album Spirit of Django.

Sponsorship

Renault is a sponsor of the Port Adelaide Football Club in the Australian Football League, signing a three-year deal in 2013. [27]

Renault has sponsored films as an advertising technique since 1899. A Renault Voiturette Type A, driven by Louis Renault, appeared in one of the Lumiéres' early films. [27] Between 1914 and 1940, the company commissioned a series of documentary films to promote its industrial activities. [27] Renault also backed some films set in Africa during the 1920s to promote the reliability of its products on tough conditions. Since 1983, the company sponsors the Cannes Film Festival [27] and it has also sponsored other festivals as the Venice Film Festival, the Marrakech Film Festival [27] and the BFI London Film Festival. [27]

Through its foundations and institutes, Renault funds projects around the world that focus on: education through scholarships, [27] road safety [27] and diversity.

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