The French automaker has pioneered the minivan segment in Europe with its iconic Espace model, but today the reality is that family buyers are growing apart with the segment.
This is one of the crucial reasons why the new generation of the MPV has been presented in lower-slung, elongated look – with crossover accents for the exterior design. Additionally, the automaker’s strategy is to also rely on the appeal of the model towards business customers after the designers dropped the boxy, unimpressive look of the previous model in favor of a more premium, sleek, crossover-attractive styling. Buoying the appeal of the large minivan is also the addition of the more upscale variant that carries the newly introduced Initiale Paris moniker, devised as a way to bend mass-market and premium segment boundaries. “The crossover design is what our customers want,” comments Philippe Brunet, chief of Renault’s D (large and midsize) segment unit, claiming that in Europe the company primarily relies on fleet customers – with the main market of large family van customers constantly diminishing.
Brunet added that Renault’s decision to reorient the Espace with a more crossover feel comes after serious customer enquiries and because the segment makes up today “10 percent to 15 percent of the car segment in Europe and is still growing.” And the opinion that fleet customers will make up for the bulk of the model’s sales in Europe is supported by analysts – the shift towards business sales being widespread across the continent, with the exception of Italy.
Via Automotive News Europe