Long-serving Renault CEO Pierre Dreyfus recognized how markets would expand when the European Economic Community was created in 1958.
That forerunner of today's 25-country European Union would not only spur economic development for the region, but also free automakers from one-country home markets, Dreyfus predicted.
Dreyfus opened sales branches outside France to take advantage of opened markets. Exports soared.
"He was among the first to foresee the creation of the euro," says Renault spokesman Pierre Zigmant.
Dreyfus also developed production outside France in Spain, Turkey and Argentina.
In two decades between 1955 and 1975, he expanded Renault's lineup ranging from the small Dauphine to the large R30 and introduced the successful R4 and R5 minis.
Dreyfus was thrust to the top unexpectedly early. He took over from Pierre Lefaucheux, who was killed in a road accident.
He adopted Lefaucheux's policy of keeping management independent from the French government, which had nationalized Renault in 1945. But he firmly believed employees should benefit first from company success. Under him, Renault was the first French company to offer a third, and then a fourth week of paid vacation.
He was a courteous, well-mannered man. Dreyfus saying "this is annoying" was a sign of extreme displeasure, colleagues recall.
He died in 1994 at age 87.