24 December 1898: Louis Renault's Voiturette climbs Montmartre hill
On that Christmas Eve night 100 years ago a horseless carriage climbed rue Lepic on Montmartre hill. It had taken three months for Louis Renault to build his first Voiturette in his workshop in Boulogne-Billancourt on the western fringe of Paris. The two-seater car was equipped with a De Dion-Bouton 1-cylinder, 1.75hp engine and the direct-drive transmission that Renault had also invented.
January 1917: French Army adopts the FT17 light battle tank
In September 1914, 1,200 Renault AG models were used to carry 8,000 soldiers to halt a German offensive 40 kilometers east of Paris, near the Marne river. The maneuver made Renault a part of French history and the 2-cylinder cars were christened taxis de la Marne.
The revolutionary FT17 light tank, designed in 1916, was a decisive weapon in France's counter-attack against the Germans in May and June 1918. The 'tank of Victory' established Louis Renault as a national hero. In 1919, he was decorated in the Legion d'Honneur.
16 January 1945: Birth of the 'Regie'
After the appointment of Pierre Lefaucheux as interim manager and the death of Louis Renault in October 1944, the French Government decided to seize Renault. It was more a punishment for Renault's co-operation with the Nazis than an ideological decision. Lefaucheux fought for special status that would ensure auto-nomous management for the company. The result was a government bill on 16 January 1945 that created the 'Regie Nationale des Usines Renault.'
1 June 1965: The Renault R16, the first 'voiture a vivre'
The R16, Europe's Car of the Year for 1965, ushered in a new era for European mid-range models. A cross between a traditional sedan and a station wagon, the car's main feature was a hatchback door that gave it a two-box silhouette. The R16 paved the way for the future voiture a vivre concept: cars made to satisfy their users, rather than their makers. The emphasis was on interior space and drive-ability.
1 July 1979: Turbocharged Formula One car wins the French Grand Prix
Renault started racing in the Formula One series on 17 July 1977, when an RS01 car ran the British Grand Prix in Silverstone, England. The British mocked the Renault's yellow color and its 1500cc turbocharged engine, nicknaming the car 'the yellow teapot.' But two years later Jean-Pierre Jabouille won the French Grand Prix with an RS11 - the first time a turbocharged car had won a Formula One race. From 1979-1983, Renault cars won 15 Grand Prix events. Renault left F1 competition in 1987 but returned in 1989 with a new V-10 engine. From 1992-1997, Renault won 75 races and six F1 world championships - with help from Williams and Benetton team drivers Alain Prost, Nigel Mansell, Damon Hill, Michael Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve.
17 November 1986: Georges Besse murdered
Less than two years after becoming chairman, Georges Besse was murdered in front of his home by Action Directe, a French terrorist group. It was a shock for Renault's employees, and came at a bad time. The company was in the midst of recovering from heavy losses in 1984 and 1985.
29 March 1996: Curitiba, Brazil, first new Renault plant in 14 years
Along the road from the Curitiba airport, hundreds of children stood in the tropical heat waving Brazilian and French flags. In a field of evergreens, Jaime Lerner, governor of the Parana State, Dorothea Werneck, Brazil's minister of industry and Renault Chairman Louis Schweitzer laid the foundation stone for Renault's new plant. Named after Ayrton Senna, the legendary Brazilian race driver who died in 1995, the plant is due to open in December 1998, with an annual production capacity of 120,000 cars.