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.
LIGHT WEIGHT AND WELL-DESIGNED: THE VOITURETTE IS ALREADY MODERN
The first Renault car appeared in 1898, eight years after the advent of the first motor car in Europe. This appearance was down to one man, Louis Renault, a pioneer who chose innovation and competition to get himself noticed.
RENAULT TYPE AG 1: 8 HORSEPOWER, BUT WITHOUT THE HORSES
The second industrial revolution... Renault invents the modern taxi and takes orders for 250 of them in Paris and for exports to London, New York and Buenos Aires.
THE APPEARANCE OF THE DIAMOND
As early as 1924, the diamond shape naturally associated with Renault appeared. With its sharp angles, it adapts to the lines of the dihedral-shaped hoods easily. The new logo is introduced by the top-of-the-range 40 CV Type NM sedan. It is gradually redesigned over the years, but the diamond is definitively imposed from that year.
RENAULT MOVES TO BILLANCOURT
Renault opens the Seguin Island plant in Boulogne-Billancourt. The prestigious Reinastella, an eight-cylinder, was produced there. At this time, the brand is already present in 49 countries.
LAUNCH OF NEW 4CV
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.
LAUNCH OF THE DAUPHINE
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. However, its failure in the US lead to an industrial, financial and social crisis and the 4CV’s career came to an end in December 1967. At this point it was the most-produced French car in history at 2,150,738 units.
LAUNCH OF THE ESTAFETTE
Renault launched the Estafette, its first front-wheel-drive vehicle, in 1959. Half of the vehicles produced were exported, primarily to the USA.
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 eight million units and exported to over 100 countries before its career came to an end on December 21, 1994.
THE RENAULT 16 BREAKS WITH THE TIMES
Launched in January 1965, the R16 is the first compact sedan with hatchback on the market - a complete break from its time. At first criticised for its too great originality, it ended up benefiting from exceptional word of mouth. Halfway between the station wagon and the sedan, it wanted to "show the way to progress", as its advertising said at the time... So much so that its atypical silhouette was quickly imitated by competitors.
BIRTH OF THE CULT R5
Intended for a young and feminine public, this city car with rounded lines, short hood and three doors was designed to upset habits. Inside, flashy colours and square dials imposed a new style, resolutely seventies. From the first year, the R5 won over five per cent of the French automotive market, then positioned itself three years later as European market leader. For more than 10 years it remained at the head of sales of small cars in France. In the end, more than 5,325,000 units were sold worldwide. Today, the R5 still holds a prominent place in the pantheon of iconic vehicles of the second half of the 20th century, alongside the 2CV, the Coccinelle and the DS.
THE CREATION OF RENAULT SPORT
Renault’s dedicated sporting arm was created in 1976 following the merger of the sports activities of Alpine and Gordini. Renault Sport then entered the Formula 1 World Championship and took its first start in the 1977 British Grand Prix. Renault Sport stood as pioneers in the competition, introducing turbo engines to the event, at a time when all competing engines were normally aspirated. Since then, Renault has been the manufacturer with the most prolific track record.
RENAULT ESPACE, THE FIRST MINIVAN IN HISTORY
When it was presented to the press in 1984, the Espace was expected to receive enthusiasm. Such a spacious and modular vehicle was unprecedented at the time. With five fully flexible rear seats that could turn and create a "lounge" space, the Espace was full of surprises.
RENAULT SALES SCHOOL FOUNDED
Coming from 11 sales schools, 300 to 500 salespeople with the "Renault sales school" label join the network each year after a four-month course.
THE TWINGO - A REVOLUTIONARY CITY CAR
As soon as it was presented at the Paris Motor Show, Twingo caused a sensation. With its frog face and a design that dared to mix minivan and city car, it was a surprising combination. A contraction between the words Twist, Swing and Tango, Twingo was aimed at a young target that quickly fell for its charm.
RENAULT HOLDS THE PODIUM AT THE GRAND PRIX DE FRANCE
For the first time in its history, Renault occupied the top three places in the French Grand Prix with the Williams-Renault and Benetton-Renault teams. It went on to win the Drivers’ championship with Michael Schumacher and its fourth-consecutive Constructors’ championship. The following year, Renault took the top four places in the French Grand Prix, and went on to win both championships with Damon Hill and the Williams team.
UNVEILING OF THE DEZIR CONCEPT CAR
Revealed at the Paris Motor Show, the DeZir concept car marked the renewal of Renault's design strategy under the impetus of Laurens van den Acker. Van den Acker developed a ‘life cycle’ in which different concept cars would focus on different stages of people’s lives. DeZir’s sensuous styling and bright red finish represents falling in love.
ZOE LAUNCHES THE ELECTRIC REVOLUTION
Renault was betting on a radical and innovative shift with the ZOE in 2012. Revealed at the Geneva motor show, it was the first mass-market electric supermini to be marketed by the brand. To date, it is the European sales leader in electric vehicles.
A NEW DESIGN STYLE
Inspired by DeZir, Clio IV was the first vehicle to adopt Renault's new design identity, and was revealed at the Paris Motor Show.
ARRIVAL OF NEW TWINGO
20 years after the first-generation model, Renault revealed its little city car at the Geneva motor show. Completely rethought, the New Twingo drew its inspiration from the heritage left by the original Twingo and Renault 5.
TREZOR MARKS THE BEGINNING OF A NEW CYCLE
Revealed at the Paris Motor Show in 2016, the TREZOR concept car is the worthy heir of DeZir. This two-seater electric coupé in the style of a large GT marks the beginning of a new design cycle and paves the way for the trends of the next vehicles in the Renault range.
GROUPE RENAULT UNVEILS SYMBIOZ
The SYMBIOZ concept car illustrates the Renault Group's vision of the automobile and what its place in society should be by 2030. SYMBIOZ is electric, autonomous and fully connected to its environment.
Renault celebrates 120 year birthday
For more than 120 years, Renault has developed automotive solutions that make mobility easy and accessible for customers around the world.