Renault etymology: What does its name mean? Who is it named after?

Renault is a major European car maker with global reach via its alliance partner Nissan, but do you know about its history and the sad fate of its founder?

Société Renault Frères was founded in 1898 by the brothers Louis, Fernand and Marcel Renault. While Louis was the company’s driving force and chief engineer, Fernand and Marcel ran the business. It after the brothers that the company is named.

In 1994, not long after the liberation of France from Nazi control, Louis Renault was charged by de Gaulle’s provisional government with collaborating with the Germans.

Louis Renault died in mysterious circumstances whilst awaiting trial. On January 1, 1945, Renault was nationalised by the French government and grew quickly in the post-war years. The government didn’t privatise Renault until 1996.

Today it has a strong alliance, involving major share crossholdings, with Nissan. It also completely owns and controls Dacia and Renault-Samsung Motors.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, it held large slice of AMC, which was then the owner of the Jeep marque.