Whilst Renault can trace its history back to 1899 when Louis, Marcel and Fernand Renault formed the company its current identity started back in 1999 when they signed an alliance with Nissan to design and develop cars whilst both brand maintained their own distinct corporate identities and cultures.
The alliance was based on Renault acquiring 36.8% of Nissan whilst the Japanese firm would take a 15% stake in Renault. Whilst the partners still operate as standalone companies they collaborate on products to reduce costs and improve efficiencies of scale.
Also in 1999 Renault bought 99% of the Romanian company Dacia which the company now uses to sell low cost vehicles into a variety of markets not seen as Renault traditional marketplace.
The partnership with Nissan has seen the Renault-Nissan Alliance become the fourth largest automotive manufacturer in the world. This has led to further alliances and in April 2010 Renault-Nissan announced a new alliance with Mercedes Benz parent company Daimler to supply new 1.6 litre turbo diesel engines whilst Mercedes Benz will supply Renault-Nissan with 2.0 litre petrol engines. Another aspect of this partnership is to allow the Mercedes brand Smart to develop a new Smart Car based on the Renault Twingo.
Despite planning future vehicles around internal combustion engines the Renault-Nissan Alliance is also investing approximately 4 billion euros into the development of electric vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf and Renault Fluence.