How Much Space IS There Inside A 2012 Tesla Model S Anyway?

Follow John

2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011

2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011

Enlarge Photo

It can be hard to work out which cars the 2012 Tesla Model S electric sport sedan competes with.

Would it be largest German luxury sedans, which it roughly matches in price with the longest (265-mile) range and the introductory limited-edition Signature Series models?

If so, those would be the Mercedes-Benz S Class and the BMW 7-Series full-size luxury sedans.

Or, as some readers suggest, the next level down, perhaps the Tesla Model S more properly competes with the BMW 5-Series and Audi A6?

(We doubt that many Model S reservation holders cross-shopped Tesla's electric sedan against the Nissan Leaf, the highest-selling battery-electric vehicle in the U.S.)

One way to compare cars--the way U.S. regulatory agencies do it--is to look at interior space and cargo volume. But even there, there's been some dispute.

When the EPA issued its 265-mile range and 89-MPGe efficiency ratings for the 2012 Model S, the agency gave the electric sedan's interior volume as 94 cubic feet and cargo space at 26 cubic feet.

The comparable figures for the Nissan Leaf are 90 cu ft and 24 cu ft (with the rear seat folded down) or 14.5 cu ft (with the seat up).

This led to a discussion with Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] communications staff, ending some days later in the final specifications sheet for the 2012 Model S.

That shows 95.1 cubic feet of interior volume, plus 58.1 cu ft of rear load-bay volume (with the seat down) or 26.3 cu ft (with the seat up).

But there's a kicker: the so-called "frunk," or front trunk, which offers an additional 5.3 cu ft of load space where a conventional car would have its engine and transmission.

(That's just 1.6 cu ft less than the entire 6.9-cubic-foot trunk of the sleek and sexy 2012 Fisker Karma, by the way.)

2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011

2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011

Enlarge Photo

So, by Tesla's numbers, the maximum total cargo volume in a Model S with both seats remaining up (and without the optional cargo-bay jump-seats) is 31.6 cubic feet.

Tesla communications manager Shanna Hendriks notes that the EPA relies on volume figures provided by automakers.

The company's initial submissions to the agency on Model S volume didn't include the "frunk," but the company has since corrected this.

And indeed, the EPA has since updated the numbers for the 2012 Tesla Model S on the website, which now shows 31 cu ft of cargo volume.

And now you know.


Follow GreenCarReports on Facebook and Twitter.

Follow Us

Comments (17)
  1. The Model S does seem to be a very practical car with a lot of cargo space. Well done Tesla. For comparison, the outgoing Ford Crown Victoria has 21 cu ft of space, which is substantially less than is in the Model S.

  2. Actually we are going to migrate to the Tesla S (maybe even the performance model 85 kW) from the Nissan Leaf.

  3. How'about we defer to the Queen's English here and just call it a bonnet? Frunk? Im not paying 90k for something with a frunk.

  4. @Richard: The "bonnet" (or "hood," in American English) is the panel covering the space underneath, which is what Tesla terms a "frunk". So it's not an exact parallel. The space UNDER the bonnet is customarily an "engine compartment."

    Not sure what it's called by makers of mid- or rear-engine cars, e.g. Porsche Boxster or 911. Any Porschephiles out there to help us out?

  5. John's exactly correct.
    I propose "Bonnunck".

  6. what did we call the front cargo space on a VW Beetle?

  7. I know that the EPA classifies a car's size by it's interior volume and the Model S is classified as a large vehicle so it's technically bigger then a mid-sized sports sedan. Whereas the Fisker Karma is classified as a subcompact, I think that alone proves that the flat electric powertrain in the Model S is pure genius. The Model S is probably thee most practical sport sedan ever, the only thing that could come close in an ICE car is a sport wagon.

  8. When the Model X, which is promised for early 2014 and price-matched to the Model S, starts shipping, I suspect a lot of sport wagons are going to look cramped.

  9. As far as cargo room goes I don't think any gasoline powered mid-sized sports sedan or mid-sized SUV will be able to compete with the Model S or X. I guess the competition is just going to have to hurry up and go electric.

  10. From a packaging/efficiency perspective, just very well done, Tesla. Not a big fan of the word "frunk," myself, but as John V. has accurately noted, it's not a bonnet per se, either.

  11. How about "bow cargo hold."

  12. Or how about "trunk #2" or the "second trunk".

  13. I used trunk for the '65 VW, since there wasn't one in the back. And I hated frunk at first, but find myself using it since there is no substitute. Just like kerosene, car, telephone, LP album, CD, big screen and netbook, new tech gives you stuff there was no need to have a word for before.

  14. Model S has a rear hatch, so there is no "1st trunk" since just the front trunk is the only true trunk. Except it's in the front...

  15. I have and have had several Porsches so yes I can relate to using a front trunk. The trunk in the back of Model S and most other cars is going to be considered your primary trunk so it would most likely be the 1st trunk you'd go to. Aside from that, lighten up my previous comment wasn't serious honestly I don't think naming a trunk is very important.

  16. The Model S is most likely the most efficient and spacious sport sedan available whether gas or electric. I really like the exterior styling and the upgraded leather interior shown on Tesla’s website seems quite nice too. I like the fact that it has an 89 MPGe meaning it out does all gasoline luxury sport sedans in efficiency and being electric it should be incredibly reliable as well. I am looking forward to seeing what Tesla and Franz von Holzhausen has in store for us with the $30,000+ Blue star edition Sedan which is expected to be release come 2015.

  17. I wonder if the 5.3 cu ft number for the frunk includes "the microwave" (the area behind the net in the frunk photo above), as Tesla used to say the frunk is 8 cu ft. Or it 5.3 the revised number for the production version. Or "8" was the design goal, or a typo. Or they really forgot to measure the microwave, and have to update the EPA again. :) In any case, front plus rear cargo room look really large when you stand in front of them. Someone measured that with the seats folded down, the rear cargo room os 6 feet long (unconfirmed number).

Commenting is closed for old articles.

Get FREE Dealer Quotes

From dealers near you

Find Green Cars


© 2015 Green Car Reports. All Rights Reserved. Green Car Reports is published by High Gear Media. Send us feedback. Stock photography by izmo, Inc.