Saturday, September 21, 2013

Trunk Wars

As Eric Cartman once said… “Well, I’m pissed off!”

I get a bit riled than when self-proclaimed experts make statements that are simply not true, or may be true but are completely irrelevant to a point they are trying to make, particularly when the intent is to just to rip apart some product that they seem to hate, especially when it comes to the Focus Electric or Volt, which in my non-expert opinion, are two well-designed plug-in electric vehicles for the masses.

Case in point… there’s a fair number of complaints about the trunk space of the Volt and Focus Electric, particularly from have-nots that bought something else or don’t own an EV yet. I guess there’s a price to pay for beauty, and both of these cars  are arguably  the best looking of the reasonably priced EV sedans currently available. Perhaps the sweeping roofline contributes to the visually appealing shape of both sedans, but does it really tax available cargo space, especially when a huge battery system needs to be stuffed somewhere?

Much of the incessant whining comes in the form of comparisons to the trunks of ICE versions of these vehicles. That’s because behind the rear seats, the Volt has 33% less cargo volume than the Cruze (10 cu ft versus 15 cu ft), and the Focus Electric has almost 40% less than  its ICE siblings (14.5 cu ft vs 23.8 cu ft). But really, who cares how much space is “lost” when we’re in the market for an EV? If I’m fixated on going electric, why should I give  a rat’s ass what can fit behind the rear seats some ICE vehicle that I have absolutely no interest in acquiring?  What I might care about is how trunk space compares between competing  EVs.

So here it is, reasonably-priced EV sedans ranked from first to last, based on cargo space behind the  rear seat. Data came from and manufacturer websites.
  1. Nissan Leaf            23.6 cu ft
  2. Ford Focus Electric    14.5 cu ft
  3. Mitsubishi MiEV        13.2 cu ft
  4. Honda Fit EV           12.0 cu ft
  5. Chevy Volt             10.6 cu ft
  6. Chevy Spark             9.6 cu ft
What surprised me is that I thought the Volt had more room than that; however that’s just based on looking at images on the internet and one in-person peek under the hatch. Looks can be deceiving, I guess, but it seems to be a highly usable space, since I prefer a shallow area with lots of floor space rather than a deep pocket that forces me to stack things up.  Also, for safety reasons, I prefer a space that provides some distance between the rear bumper and my kids’ butts when they’re sitting in the back seat.  But that’s just me.

In the end, the Leaf takes the cake on this one, thanks to its highly functional shape. What really got me laughing is that the Focus Electric has the most trunk space out of all the ICE-based EVs on this list, which is something those righteous, Ford-hating self-proclaimed experts should chew on for a few minutes. Also, note that the Focus Electric beat out the MiEV, which purportedly lost absolutely no trunk space in its conversion to an EV. Guess it didn’t have much to start with in the first place.

In case you’re wondering, I didn’t include the Prius plug-in because, in my opinion, its electric-only range makes it more of a hybrid than an electric. And I didn’t include that cute little 500e since it’s a two-door. Off the record, it’s got about 7 cu ft behind its back seats, which would put it dead last on this list, but to me that’s not a fair comparison.

Just for grins, I looked at different compact ICE vehicles other than the Focus, which seems to have a LOT of space back there…  Turns out the 3-series sedan and Corolla have 13 cu ft, a Civic sedan has 12.5 cu ft, the Sentra has 15 cu ft, a C-Class sedan has 12.6 cu ft,  and my old 2005 C230 Sport sedan has 9.9 cu ft. Bottom line… all the EVs in the above list have  a rear cargo capacity that’s similar to ICE counterparts; the Leaf and ICE Focus just seem to really excel when it comes to trunk space.

So anyway, I hope this helps clear the air on a trivial matter, especially for those looking to step up to an EV. I hope I’ve convinced you that trunk space comparison is truly trivial… these EVs give you as much space as comparably-sized mass-produced ICE vehicles. In other words, if you fit your daily routine into a small car now, you will have no problem fitting it into one of these fine EVs. All you need to do is figure out if you can live with the limited electric range.

PS – for a great little write-up on living with an EV trunk (with pictures too!),  see jamiegeek’s blog (, “Dude, where’s my trunk?”.

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