Renault Trucks is heir to more than one hundred years of history. The manufacturer is paying tribute to Paul Berliet, a pioneer in the automotive industry, who died on 7 August 2012. A bust representing him was unveiled on 25 April 2013 close to the Renault Trucks amphitheatre on the site in Lyon at Saint-Priest, which now bears his name.
Renault Trucks has inherited a rich history, which began more than a century ago, in 1894, with Marius Berliet. It was his son, Paul Berliet, a real pioneer, that the manufacturer honoured by unveiling a bust representing him at Saint-Priest on 25 April. The ceremony was attended by the Berliet family, the Berliet Foundation, Bruno Blin, President of Renault Trucks and Bernard Modat, the Renault Trucks Brand Director.
Paul Berliet, a man who loved gaining experience in the field, joined his father's company, Automobiles Marius Berliet, as a worker in 1935. Successively becoming foundry workshop foreman, and then Manufacturing Director in the 1940s before becoming Assistant Managing Director in 1954, Paul Berliet wanted the company to expand into international markets. He looked towards emerging countries and set up factories in Algeria and Morocco in 1957 and it was just after travelling to Africa that he decided to produce the very heavy vehicles customers needed to operate over challenging terrain, particularly in the search for oil. The capabilities of these vehicles, first and foremost the GBC, were revealed by the Berliet Ténéré-Tchad mission in 1959 and 60.
Paul Berliet became the company President and CEO in 1962. He set up a research and development centre to be "20 years ahead". He also implemented a decentralisation policy for his production sites in the Rhône-Alpes region with the aim of revitalising rural areas. In 1975, the Berliet company became part of the State owned Régie Nationale des Usines Renault which adopted the name of Renault Véhicules Industriels in 1978 when it merged with Saviem. Paul Berliet was then its Price-President. The company subsequently became RENAULT V.I. and then Renault Trucks in 2002, after being acquired by the Volvo Group.
In 1982, Paul Berliet set up the Marius Berliet Automobile Foundation in Lyon. Recognised as being in the public interest, its purpose is to preserve and show to best advantage the automotive heritage of the Rhône-Alpes region and French commercial vehicles. Its collections include over 300 vehicles and also 300,000 indexed and categorised documents available to researchers and historians for consultation. Paul Berliet remained the President of the Foundation until 2009, and remained involved in its activities until his death.
To the left: Bernard Modat, Renault Trucks Global Brand senior Vice-President
To the right: Philippe Brossette, nephew of Paul Berliet