Renault Australia managing director Justin Hocevar has admitted to being a little frustrated by the company’s decision to limit production of the stylish new Espace MPV to left-hand drive at launch.
While previous iterations of the Espace have not been sold here given Australia’s small people-mover market, the company’s local arm believes the new version, which is more stylish crossover than stodgy minivan, would find a niche here.
But until such time as the company’s French headquarters changes its mind and green-lights production for RHD markets such as the UK and here, all the desire in the world won’t get the car here.
“At the moment there’s no RHD planning, it’s fair to say that’s a little frustrating, I don’t think that we as a group have necessarily gone the right way about planning for this vehicle as a global vehicle,” Hocevar told CarAdvice today.
However, there is a pinprick of light at the end of the tunnel. Renault’s global boss Carlos Ghosn told reporters at the Espace’s Paris motor show premiere at the start of October than RHD production was not off the cards entirely, if sales in key mainland European markets fire.
“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,” Ghosn said at the time.
Renault Australia says that if this decision comes to fruition, it will build a case to get the car here. A stylish seven-seat crossover of this ilk could theoretically compete (at very minor volumes) with two-wheel-drive versions of popular large SUVs such as the Toyota Kluger, which sells in serious volume here.
“I certainly noted the comments that were made by our CEO at the Paris motor show, [saying] never say never, they will consider the industrialisation of that vehicle in RHD,” Hocevar said.
“So if that happens we will certainly be a market that will be putting forward a business case, and we hope that day will come sooner than later.”
As we have reported, the new seven-seater Espace sits on the Renault-Nissan CFM1 modular platform that currently does duty underneath the Qashqai and X-Trail, and will underpin the next-generation Megane, Latitude and Koleos.