Louis Renault was a French industrialist, one of the founders of Renault and a pioneer of the automobile industry.
He built his first car in 1898, hiring a pair of workmen to modify a used 3⁄4 HP 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 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.