Groupe Renault is a French multinational automobile manufacturer established in 1899. The company produces a range of cars and vans, and in the past has manufactured trucks, tractors, tanks, buses/coaches and autorail vehicles. The Renault corporation was founded in 1899 as Société Renault Frères by Louis Renault and his brothers Marcel and Fernand. Louis was a bright, aspiring young engineer who had already designed and built several prototypes before teaming up with his brothers, who had honed their business skills working for their father's textile firm. While Louis handled design and production, Marcel and Fernand managed the business.
The first Renault car, the Renault Voiturette 1CV, was sold to a friend of Louis' father after giving him a test ride on 24 December 1898.
In 1903, Renault began to manufacture its own engines; until then it had purchased them from De Dion-Bouton. The first major volume sale came in 1905 when Société des Automobiles de Place bought Renault AG1 cars to establish a fleet of taxis. These vehicles were later used by the French military to transport troops during World War I which earned them the nickname "Taxi de la Marne." By 1907, a significant percentage of London and Paris taxis had been built by Renault. Renault was also the best-selling foreign brand in New York in 1907 and 1908 In 1908 the company produced 3,575 units, becoming the country's largest car manufacturer.
The brothers recognised the value of publicity that participation in motor racing could generate for their vehicles. Renault made itself known through succeeding in the first city-to-city races held in Switzerland, producing rapid sales growth. Both Louis and Marcel raced company vehicles, but Marcel was killed in an accident during the 1903 Paris-Madrid race.