The Espace offered by the French auto maker Renault is a large MPV (Multi-Purpose Vehicle). The first 3 generations were sold using the Renault brand, but they were actually manufactured by Matra. The latest version, which is the 4th generation model, is entirely a Renault product. The 4th generation Espace seats 7, has a long wheel base, and offers an increased amount of leg room and a larger boot size.
The Espace is often referred to as being the first of the multi-purpose vehicles. Renault supports this claim. The van was based off the Volkswagen 2 from the year 1950, which was called the Kombi and the Fiat 600 Multipla from 1956. These vehicles made a multi-seat concept popular about 30 years before the Espace was designed and manufactured. The concept had been tried many times before those two makes, one example is the Stout Scarab from 1935. The Plymouth Voyager offered a similar concept. Lee Iacocca states that he proposed that design when he was working for Ford, but did not build it until 1984 when he went to Chrysler in the year 1984, which is the same year that the Espace was launched.
The original Espace design was first conceived by Fergus Polluck who is a British designer. He came up with the design in the 1970s. Originally, the Espace was going to be sold as the Talbot and was designed as a replacement for the Matra Rancho, which was a leisure activity vehicle. The early prototypes for the Espace used parts from Simca and featured a grille that looked like the one on the Simca 1307.
In the year 1978, which was 6 years before the vehicle was actually produced, Simca and Chrysler United Kingdom were sold to PSA Peugeot Citroen, a French Company. The design for the Espace was then given to Matra.
PSA decided that the Espace design was too risky and too expensive to produce so Matra took the plans to Renault. The concept from Mantra was to become the Espace of Renault. Some of the design features included a fiberglass body that was mounted on a steel chassis. It was put together the same way as the Talbot Matra Murena. Production of the Murena had to be stopped in order to make the Espace because of the small size of the factory.
Launched in the year 1984, the Espace was off to a very slow start. There were only 9 that were sold during the first month. However, not long later, consumers started to realize how beneficial the MPV could be and then the Espace started to gain in popularity. It started being sold in the United Kingdom in the year 1985.
The fifth generation of the Espace was unveiled in October of 2014 at the Paris Motor Show. The large MPV design is going to be changed to a more cross over style. The common module family is going to be used for the architectural base of the latest model. The newest offering is to be available with either five or seven seats, but neither version is going to be available in the United Kingdom.
In December of 2011, Renault made an announcement that they would no longer be offering the Wind, Modus, Kangoo, Espace, and Laguna lines in the United Kingdom or in the United States. This announcement took effect in the early part of 2012. The reason behind it was to help the company become profitable and the cuts were part of a cost cutting plan for the company.