Louis Renault


Louis Renault (French pronunciation: ​[ʁəno]; February 12, 1877 – October 24, 1944) was a French industrialist, one of the founders of Renault and a pioneer of the automobile industry.

Renault built one of France’s largest automobile manufacturing concerns, which bears his name to this day. During World War I his factories contributed massively to the war effort notably so by the creation and manufacture of the first effective tank: the Renault FT tank. Accused of collaborating with the Germans during World War II, he died while awaiting trial in liberated France toward the end of 1944 under uncertain circumstances. His company was seized and nationalized by the provisional government of France although he was never tried or convicted. His factories were the only ones permanently expropriated by the French government.

In 1956, Time Magazine described Renault as “rich, powerful and famous, cantankerous, brilliant, often brutal, the little Napoleon of an automaking empire”; “vulgar, loud, domineering, impatient, he was a terror to associates, a friend to practically none,” adding that to the French working man, Renault became known as “the ogre of Billancourt.”

Early life and career

The fourth of six children born into the bourgeois Parisian family of Alfred and Berthe Renault, Louis Renault attended Lycée Condorcet. He was fascinated by engineering and mechanics from an early age and spent hours in the Serpollet steam car workshop or tinkering with old Panhardengines in the tool shed of the family’s second home in Billancourt.

He built his first car in 1898, hiring a pair of workmen to modify a used 34 hp (560 W) De Dion-Bouton cycle which featured a revolutionary universally jointed driveshaft[4] and a three-speed gearbox with reverse, with the third gear in direct drive (which he patented a year later). Renault called his car the Voiturette. On December 24, 1898, he won a bet with his friends that his invention with an innovative crankshaft could beat a car with a bicycle-like chain drive up the slope of Rue Lepic in Montmartre. As well as winning the bet, Renault received 13 definite orders for the vehicle. Seeing the commercial potential, he teamed up with his two older brothers, Marcel and Fernand, who had business experience from working in their father’s button and textiles firm. They formed the Renault Frères company on February 25, 1899. Initially, business and administration was handled entirely by the elder brothers, with Louis dedicating himself to design and manufacturing. Marcel was killed in the 1903 Paris-Madrid motor race, and in 1908, Louis Renault took overall control of the company after Fernand retired for health reasons. Fernand subsequently died in 1909.

 

Read More at Wikipedia


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