The History of Renault

Groupe Renault

We’re jam packed with amazing leasing deals on a wide range of Renault cars, so we decided to explore the history of the brand this week and really gain an understand of what made the brand what it is today.

So, who is Renault?

Groupe Renault was established in 1898 under the name “Renault Freres” by Marcel and Fernand Renault. The more famous brother, Louis Renault, remained an employee of the company who focused on designing and engineering the cars whilst his brothers ran the company using their business skills.

The Renault diamond first appeared in 1924 on the bonnet of a 40 CV Type NM Sedan. The design has been changed over the years but this was a pinnacle moment in Renault’s history.

Significant Renault Cars

The company’s first car was the “Renault Voiturette” which earned 71 orders in the year. On December 24th 1898, Louis drove the car up the Rue Lepic in Paris, a street well-known for its slope thanks to a bet with some friends. When the car accomplished the feat, Louis had secured 12 new orders for the Renault Brothers.

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In 1905, Renault’s first major volume sale came when the Société des Automobiles de Place bought a batch of Renault AG1 cars to establish a fleet of taxis. The Renault AG1 was a hackney carriage car that is more famously known as “Taxi de la Marne”. This nickname came about when the fleet of 1,000 taxis were requisitioned by the French Army for use in World War One where they were used to transport troops to the First Battle of the Marne in September 1914.

Renault’s next significant model was in 1946 with the launch of the 4CV. This car was revealed at the Paris Motor Show in October and was the first rear-engined Renault. It was a record setter too, being the first French vehicle to have a production of over one million units. The 4CV weighed 560kg and used very little fuel. It was made in a few different versions (Service model, convertible model and sportive model) and was sold primarily in the USA. In total the 4CV produced 2,150,738 units.

The 4CV’s successor was the Dauphine – a French word meaning heir apparent. The 1956 model was consistent with the designs of the time with its curvaceous form that introduced a fresh spirit and included all the modern features of the time: adjustable seats, heating and an automatic gearbox.

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In 1961, Renault launched the Renault 4 which became known as a true cultural phenomenon. It was marketed as the first ‘car for living’; a versatile car that was able to go practically anywhere and prove useful in all circumstances. It was a five-door model that had a foldable bench in the back to increase the boot space and turn the car into a van. The Renault 4 was produced in over 8 million units and exported to over 100 different countries before it retired in 1994.

Renault launched the R5 in 1972 and has become one of the most iconic vehicles from the second half of the 20th century. It was a city car with a resolutely seventies design: rounded lines, short hood, flashy colours and square dials. In its first year, the R5 had 5% of the French automotive market and only three years later it was the European market leader. It remained at the top of small car sales in France for over 10 years. More than 5,325,000 units were sold worldwide.

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A Competitive Racing Spirit

Competition is a part of Renault’s DNA. It began back at the turn of the 20th century when between 1900 and 1902, Renault won 19 competitions; establishing the high reliable of the Renault brand.

In 1906, Renault won the French Grand Prix; a race that took place over two days and was a total race distance of 1,238.16km. The race was won in a time of 12 hours and 15 minutes by Ferenc Szisz driving a Renault AK.

A car that helped showcase Renault as a sports competition pioneer was the Etoile Filante which broke four speed records in 1956 thanks to a 270hp turbine engine.

In 1975, a sports branch of the Renault brand was created and named Renault Sport and following this creation went on to make revolutionary steps in the world of Formula 1 in 1977; submitting the RS01, a car equipped with a turbocharged engine.

In 1992, William-Renault became the world champion of the manufacturers with 15 pole positions, 10 victories and 6 doubled on the 16 races. The Renault engines remained defending champions for the next six consecutive years.

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In 1995, Renault held the top three places in the French Grand Prix with an effort from both the Williams-Renault and Benetton-Renault teams. The following year, Renault went on to the reach the top four places.

The Renault F1 Team won the manufacturers’ World Championship title in both 2005 and 2006 with an exceptional effort from Fernando Alonso who won the World Champion title for both years behind the wheel of a Renault.

Willow’s Favourite Renault

At Willow, one of our favourite Renault vehicles to be released by the brand has to be the Renault Clio V6. We featured this fantastic car on one of our social media Throwback Thursdays and discovered we weren’t the only people still loving this little beauty.

This car was an achievable dream for most avid motorists near the start of the century. Dubbed a Renault Clio on steroids, it had a 255bhp 24V 3.0 litre engine that went from 0-62mph in 5.8 seconds and had a top speed of 153mph.

This is considered one of the craziest cars that Renault has ever built. It was fun and full of character. A real gem from the past!

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An Innovative History

Renault began as a dream between three brothers and now has reached heights as one of the most established car manufacturers in the world; providing vehicles to millions of customers with its range of cars that are made to suit any driver.

Why not give our range of Renault lease deals a look at here and find your next car today!