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Paris show: Right-hook Renault Espace a possibility

Space station: Renault's fifth-generation Espace made its debut at this year's Paris motor show and it could eventually be produced in right-hand drive.

Renault Espace could go right-hand drive, depending on European reception


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10 Oct 2014

RENAULT'S stylish Espace people-mover could eventually be built in right-hand drive, but according to the company's CEO Carlos Ghosn, it will depend on the response in the European market.

The French car-maker's replacement for the ageing and boxy fourth-generation model made its debut at this month's Paris motor show with a striking new look that is largely unchanged from its Initiale Paris concept.

While Renault has previously said that the five- or seven-seat MPV was unlikely to be built in right-hand drive, Renault chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn told reporters at the Paris motor show that right-hook production was a chance, but it could take time.

“(I'm) not saying never,” he said. “I am waiting for the response of the market, our dealers are fired up, we want to see what the press is going to say about Espace, we are going to announce pricing, emissions will be very competitive.

“Hopefully if we make a big bang in the European market, you are going to see the product expanding globally. There is nothing which forbids this car from going global.”

While Mr Ghosn said he is hoping for strong sales from the family hauler, the Renault boss is remaining realistic about sales volumes for Espace, particularly in Europe.

“Our forecast of sales of Espace (in 2014) is about 8000 cars. Espace is competing in the D-segment and D-segment is about 12 per cent of the overall European market, which represents around 1.5 or 1.6 million cars. We have a very tiny market share.

“Let's be realistic, we are starting from a very low level,” he said. “So we are going to go up in a very prudent and systematic way.

“Before starting to say we are going to go into Asia and selling the car in China, let's make sure we are doing a good job in Europe on the classical segment and then in function of the reaction of the consumer, which of course is going to be very strong, then we are going to expand the footprint of the Espace. But first we wait for this response.”

Mr Ghosn said Renault had not anticipated the sales success of its Clio-based Captur crossover, and he hoped for a similar reception with the new Espace.

“We are going to be much more progressive in our strategy, for a simple reason particularly in the premium market, in the past, our goals were far above our achievement. We want to reverse it.

“Hopefully our achievements are going to be far above our goals, that’s what we are going to test with new Espace.”

Mr Ghosn said despite the shift in design from the boxy look of the outgoing model to the sleek look of the 2015 iteration, the Espace has not lost its functionality as effective and comfortable family transport.

“The new car you have soon, which has taken some time to come to because it has been a long time to renew Espace because we didn’t want to renew it with a boring car. We didn’t want to say its another mini van,” he said.

“If you go to the roots of the Espace in 1984 – comfort, convenience, modularity, light, space. That’s it. It was first the mini-van in the world. So successful that it was copied in and outside Europe and became a segment in the market.

“We said let's take the basic needs, except in 2014, the illustration is very different from 1984. The illustration is like a crossover design, but when sitting inside, you can still feel space, light and comfort. When you look at the car and show it to a dealer, they are very excited.”

Renault Australia managing director Justin Hocevar has told GoAuto on more than one occasion that the brand would be keen on introducing the Espace to the line-up as he believes the five-door MPV it would suit the local market.

Following Mr Ghosn's comments, Renault Australia corporate communications and sponsorship manager Emily Fadeyev told GoAuto that the company would always evaluate the viability of new model for the local range.

“We’re always interested in all-new products and if the all-new Espace was to be made in right-hand drive, we would assess it for Australia,” she said. “As always, any new model for the Australian market must be available in the right specification and the right price.” The new-gen Espace is expected to be built using the Renault-Nissan Alliance's Common Module Family (CMF) architecture that underpins the Nissan X-Trail and Qashqai SUVs.

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