When Renault reimagined its Espace as a crossover after five model generations as a minivan, it was an acknowledgement that a once-iconic segment had truly run its course in Europe.
Minivans have been declining in popularity among European consumers, much as they have with American shoppers. Since the early 2010s, minivans have been replaced by crossovers and SUVs, as well as small passenger vans with more and more features.
Dataforce, which tracks sales by model and segment, no longer has a minivan category, instead combining passenger van versions of light-commercial vans with the few remaining minivans on the market.
Renault's Espace was the first minivan in Europe when it launched in 1984. Chrysler Corp.'s popular minivans, the Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager, launched in the U.S. nearly concurrently.
The Espace featured plastic composite body panels and seven seats that could be arranged like a living room, with the front seats able to swivel, and it was just 167.3 inches long. The fact that it has been redrawn now as an SUV is a milestone for the European auto industry.