Renault Espace to become an MPV again?

Renault seems to be considering a purely electric edition of the Espace. The car would be an MPV again, like the original one, and it would also have a retro look like some of the manufacturer’s new EV products lately.

Renault could offer a competitor to the VW ID.Buzz and others with an electric, seven-seater Espace based on the Ampr Medium platform (previously known as the CMF-EV).

One-box design

Renault established a whole new vehicle class in Europe in 1984 with the Espace. It was the first large saloon with a so-called ‘one-box’ design and, thus, basically the forefather of today’s vans. The models were soon to be called MPVs for Multi-Purpose Vehicles, and in the beginning, the French manufacturer had only one real competitor: the Chrysler Voyager. The latter was imported in Europe from 1988 onward; in the U.S., it existed already under the name Dodge Caravan since… 1984.

One of Espace’s innovative features at the time was the space concept with seven seats, five of which could be removed individually so that the boot could be extended to three cubic meters of load space. Its looks were defined by its boxy silhouette, short overhangs, and aerodynamically optimized steep bonnet and windscreen, features inspired by the TGV high-speed trains from that period.

The original Espace was a boxy design that offered plenty of space in limited outside proportions /Renault

The current Espace model has little to do with this, as it is, in fact, an elongated seven-seater version of the hybrid SUV Austral. It shares nothing in philosophy or design with the original version from 1984 except for the name.


Renault and its electric subsidiary Ampère have apparently also recognized this and, according to information from the British specialized magazine Autocar, are now considering reintroducing the next model generation of the Espace as a real MPV.

Renault is currently riding the retro wave with its electric cars, as shown by the plans for an electric Twingo that is close to the original design. The design of the Renault 5 EV also draws heavily on its iconic predecessor.

Olivier Brosse, Renault’s global head of the Ampr medium platform, told Autocar that a resurrection of the ground-breaking Espace is “something we are contemplating” as Renault expands its electric car offering into new segments. He continued, “Technically, I think it is possible, but after that, we would have to consider whether an MPV would be accepted again by European customers.”

Growing number of possible competitors

An electric, seven-seater Espace MPV based on the Ampr medium architecture would give Renault a competitor to the Volkswagen ID.Buzz and seven-seater SUVs such as the Kia EV9.

Various vehicles from China – where the MPV is booming – would also compete with an electric Espace, such as the Maxus Mifa 7, the Xpeng X9, or the Zeekr 009, of which there is also a Volvo version, the EM90.

No FWD anymore

The original Espace was a front-wheel drive (FWD) because of space reasons. It could be relatively compact and still offer a lot of space. One of the hurdles in the development of such a vehicle now and in electric form would be the weight and, in this context, the drive system.

“I think one technical problem we have is that after the car exceeds 2.0-2.2 tonnes, from a technical perspective, it’s almost mandatory that the car becomes rear-wheel driven,” explained Olivier Brosse. According to Brosse, all-wheel drive would also be conceivable, while front-wheel drive would be ruled out.

But that should not be the end of the story: “Electric car platforms bring a number of benefits that allow us to optimize internal packaging, and from a design point of view, they give you a lot more freedom,” he added.

As these are just wild ideas so far, there is, of course, no information yet on when a fully electric Renault Espace could appear. Logically, no technical details are yet known either.

However, the report in Autocar is no coincidence. After all, CEO Luca de Meo considers the reinvention of classic designs to be “irresistible.” That suggests that other models could return as the company expands its electric car portfolio.

Renault is keen on a retro look for its electric models at the moment, and a retro Espace EV could look like this, according to a rendering in the British car magazine Autocar /Autocar



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