History of Renault
Renault was formed by Louis Renault and his brothers in 1898 after Louis decided to convert his tricycle into a four wheeled vehicle with a new invention - a gear box. The first orders for the car were placed after Louis won a bet with friends on Christmas Eve of that year. Louis' two brothers Fernand and Marcel took charge of the Renault business, continuing to pay Louis a healthy salary for his patented gear box.
While originally a racing firm, the company began to produce cars for the public and were spurred on by the presence of the cheaper American automotive firms in Europe during the inter-war period. Unfortunately for Renault the Great Depression affected their output, as did Louis' disastrous decision to protest against the war with Germany in 1939. Once the war had finished, with Louis one of the casualties, Renault was nationalised by the French Government.
Although Renault failed in its attempts to sell their cars to America, the firm recovered after the war and was one of the largest nationalised companies in France. The car had success with the 4CV which afforded it a platform to build from. Also helping Renault was the success of the Dauphine, with the car being one of the firm's best sellers. The company expanded in the 1970s and 1980s and released two new models, the Espace and the Renault 25.
The company celebrated its privatisation in 1996 by working on new designs, the Laguna and the Megane. Privatising the company also allowed them to take a 44% stake in Nissan, while the Japanese company took a 15% stake with no voting rights in return. Nissan's boss Carlos Ghosn also took over as head of Renault in 2005.