Louis Renault (industrialist)


Louis Renault (industrialist)

Louis Renault (February 15, 1877, Paris, France – October 24, 1944) was a French industrialist and one of the foremost pioneers of the automobile industry.

The fourth of five children born into a Paris bourgeoisie family, Renault was fascinated by engineering and mechanics from a very early age, and spent many hours in the Serpollet steam car workshop or tinkering with old Panhard engines in the tool shed of the family's second home in Billancourt. He built his first car in 1898, a modified De Dion-Bouton cycle which featured a revolutionary universally jointed driveshaft 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 was capable of driving up the slope of Lepic street in Montmartre. As well as winning the bet, Renault received 13 definite orders for the vehicle. Seeing the commercial potential in his ingenuity, he teamed up with his two older brothers Marcel (1872-1903) and Fernand (1865-1909) who had business experience from working in their father's textiles firm. They formed the Renault Frères company in February 25, 1899. Initially, business and administration was handled entirely by the elder brothers, with Louis dedicating himself to design and manufacturing. However, in 1908 he took overall control of the company after Fernand retired for health reasons (Marcel having being killed earlier in the Paris-Madrid [motor racing of 1903).

Renault remained in complete control of his company until 1942, dealing with its rapid expansion while designing several new inventions, most of which are still in use today, such as hydraulic shock absorbers, the modern drum brake, compressed gas ignition, the turbocharger,Fact|date=October 2007 and the taximeter.Fact|date=October 2007

He was decorated with the Legion of Honor after the First World War for the success of his military designs, most famously including the revolutionary Renault FT-17 tank.

During the interwar period, his right-wing opinions are well known, while his employees at Boulogne Billancourt are at the "proletarian avant-garde", leading to various cases of labour unrest. He pleaded a necessary union between European nations.

In 1939, he again is one of the most important suppliers for French army, but France capitulates in 1940. He refused to produce tanks for the German army, leading to the requisition of his company. During the Nazi occupation of France during the Second World War, the Renault company (like all French companies) was put under the total control of the Germans, and people from Daimler-Benz are put at keys positions. The compagny production was insignificant, however, less than 1/3 of what it had been in the sole month of May 1939. Besides, after an allied air-raid to destroy his plant in march 1942, Louis suffers from Aphasia, cannot speak nor write, and stops direction.

When France was liberated in 1944, he was arrested under charges of industrial collaboration with Nazi Germany ; he dies a month later, claiming to have been mistreated in Fresnes Prison ; a Traumatic brain injury and a severe Uremia are observed. No inquiry is made.

Three month later, Renault was nationalized, on the official and very thin case of collaboration. This was most remarkable, for this condamnation was without judgement, and applied to an already dead person, in violation to rule of law and all French juridical principles. The actual director of the plant during the war succeeded in 1949 to obtain a judgement stating that he and the plant actually did not collaborated, and in 1967 Louis' only heir, his son Jean-Louis Renault, obtained some indemnisation. Louis, however, never was officially rehabilited. Actually, Louis paid his old opposition to left wing political forces, most importantly communists and labour unionists, and the fact that they wanted to make of Renault an industrial laboratory of their ideas.


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Louis Renault — may refer to:* Louis Renault (jurist) * Louis Renault (industrialist) * A character from Casablanca (film) …   Wikipedia

  • Renault (disambiguation) — Renault may be:* Renault, French automobile company * Renault F1, Formula One teamPeople: *Cécile Renault (1774 1794), French woman accused of attempting to assassinate Robespierre *Philip Francois Renault (fl. 1720s), French born American… …   Wikipedia

  • Renault 4 — Infobox Automobile name=Renault 4 aka = Renault R4 assembly=Billancourt, France Valladolid, Spain Envigado, Colombia Novo Mesto, Slovenia Guarda, Portugal Ciudad Sahagún, Mexico Santa Isabel, Argentina Naas, Ireland Milan, Italy Heidelberg,… …   Wikipedia

  • Renault, Louis —    1) (1843 1918)    jurist, Nobel laureate    Born in Autun, Louis Renault, from 1883 to 1918, taught international law at the universities of Paris and Dijon. He served as a legal adviser to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs after 1890 and was a… …   France. A reference guide from Renaissance to the Present

  • Louis Schweitzer — may refer to:*Louis Schweitzer (CEO), chairman and former CEO of Renault *Louis Schweitzer (Philanthropist), paper industrialist and philanthropist, donated WBAI to Pacifica Radio …   Wikipedia

  • Renault, Louis — ▪ French industrialist born 1877, Paris, France died Oct. 24, 1944, Paris       manufacturer who built the largest automobile company in France.       Renault built his first automobile in 1898. He and his brothers Fernand and Marcel then built a …   Universalium

  • Marcel Renault — in 1902. Marcel Renault (1872–1903) was a French racing car driver and industrialist, co founder of the car maker Renault, and the brother of Louis and Fernand Renault. He and his brothers jointly founded the Renault company on 25 February 1899.… …   Wikipedia

  • List of World War II topics (L) — # L Absinthe # L Adroit class destroyer # L affiche rouge (Poem) # L Ambroisie # L Arpège # L Astrance # L Atelier de Joël Robuchon # L Entrecôte # L Hôtel # L Origine du monde # L 2 Grasshopper # L Day # L. D. Meyer # L. H. Clermont # L. Patrick …   Wikipedia

  • Jean-Baptiste Eugène Estienne — Infobox Military Person name=Jean Baptiste Eugène Estienne lived=7 November 1860 2 April 1936 caption= nickname= placeofbirth=Condé en Barrois, France placeofdeath= allegiance=France branch=French Army serviceyears= rank=General of Artillery unit …   Wikipedia

  • Charles de Gaulle — This article is about the French statesman. For other uses, see Charles de Gaulle (disambiguation). Charles De Gaulle President of the French Republic Co Prince of Andorra In office 8 January 195 …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.