Opinion: Tesla’s Model 3 AWD ‘frunk’, as shown in prototypes, is just a glorified glovebox

black_1There are so many things to be impressed about with the Model 3 that its hard to get my head around all of the goodies. But that doesn’t mean there are some disappointments too.

One thing that struck me, as a Model S owner looking perhaps to either downsize or get a second electric car, was the lack of storage, particularly up front in the area Tesla and its fans called the ‘Frunk’. Here’s a picture of one of the AWD Model 3s with its Frunk open via Reddit:

Model 3 Frunk

That’s about the same room as you get beneath the seat on a regional jet and almost pointless in size unless you need secure purse storage. That bag looks about 8 inches thick at the rear and maybe 3 inches thick at the front and about 18 inches long and at most 3 feet wide at its biggest point. You can’t put groceries here or a stroller (2 things I put in my RWD Model S frunk). Besides the tailor-made handbag above, it is hard to imagine what use this space can provide to the typical user. Tesla could put a roadside emergency kit with tire fix can? Maybe you can fit a squeegee for the windows since Electric cars don’t stop at gas stations? How about a very small ball pit?

In any case, it’s a real shame because the Frunk is one of the real differentiators of the Model S. I can put my kids in the jumpseats in the back and suitcases in the front on road trips. The extra room puts Tesla’s current lineup in the land of big minivans in terms of cargo space.

Why so small? Since the Model 3 prototypes were AWD that means the front motor is taking up some space and the RWD option will have a deeper well.

At this point, I can only speculate that because this is a prototype, they haven’t shrunken down and optimized the electronics that are in the front and will have done so in the 18 months before the Model 3 launches.  Tesla certainly made the Frunk bigger in the Model X final version vs. the prototypes.

Also perhaps Tesla will make the Bioweapons grade air filter an option on the Model 3. That takes up some space as well.

A video of the trunk also shows a significant paring down of what Model S and X owners are used to. There isn’t much clearance and lifting that hood with snow or water on it would dump a bunch of wetness into the trunk.

As part of his Tweetstorm earlier this week, CEO Elon Musk said that the trunk at least would get upgraded but didn’t elaborate on how. One of the bigger wow-factor parts of the Model 3 is the one-piece of glass top that would have to be divided to make a hatchback. It’s worth noting that during the Model 3 unveil, Musk also said that the Model 3 should end up with the most cargo space in its segment but that seems to include the backseat area with the seats folded down.

After being spoiled by the Model S, I probably have to ease back my expectations on cargo space on the Model 3. Something had to give in terms of space for people and cargo and from the initial drives, it doesn’t appear to be people.

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Comments

  1. Eric - 7 years ago

    Good observations. Bear in mind, however, a new-to-EV Model 3 owner will likely find they have much more space to store things under the hood than they ever had before. As a frunk-loving Model S owner, though, I hear you. We’ve had a ball working out what our frunk will hold (groceries, backpacks, my 10-year-old, HEXO+ drone) and will not hold (Boosted skateboard, mid-sized cooler, my 12-year-old).

  2. darthbelichick07 - 7 years ago

    Yep — definitely won’t be fitting a set of golf clubs in the front trunk. And, perhaps not the rear trunk either, unless they widen it as Elon alluded to.

  3. John - 7 years ago

    Look, it’s a car 20 % smaller for a third of the price almost. It has more soace than any car of its smaller dimensions. Don’t you think you’re being unreasonable here?

  4. TSLAZone (@vinylzone) - 7 years ago

    You must be comparing it to the rear drive mosdel S frunk, right? The frunk of model 3 is in fact bigger than the one in my P85D!

  5. Steve Grenier - 7 years ago

    That’s rather disappointing. Let’s hope it grows even 20% between now and release.

  6. lucas (@thestigla) - 7 years ago

    Duh…….. The model 3 is a smaller car! Ofcourse the frunk is going to be smaller and so will the cargo in the rear. What do you know, its a different car…….
    These are pre production prototypes as well. This article is pointless.

  7. OverClokx - 7 years ago

    Something that I feel was missed in this Opinion:

    The Frunk needs to be smaller to accommodate the 5-Star Safety Rating as well, due to the reinforcement of the front of the Model 3’s chassis. Remember that the Model 3 is ~20% smaller than the Model S. Mix that with an even smaller frunk to accommodate the additional framework in the chassis metals to reduce weight/size, and it makes sense.

    With the current trunk (which looks quite spacious from the initial Model 3 release videos), plus the frunk, this car will undoubtedly still have great storage potential.

  8. TSLAZone (@vinylzone) - 7 years ago

    You must be joking right? A “glorified glove box”? really? Did you see the frunk of an AWD model S? It is not bigger than this!
    I have a suspecion that mainly those who own a RWD model S are complaining… yes, we know you have a big frunk, but did you see the RWD model 3 frunk? Of course not, because all model 3 prototypes shown to the public were AWD, and with a front motor, comes a smaller frunk, and the car is 20% smaller than a model S, so it is only natural!

  9. Carl Sagan - 7 years ago

    Considering that the Tesla rep mentions that there is prototype hardware in the trunk and that we know these were dual motor models, I’m not too worried about the as it seems logical that it too had additional he’d war taking up space.

  10. Stetson - 7 years ago

    Breaking News: Smaller car has less storage space.

    • Nathanael - 7 years ago

      Ha. Indeed. Smaller car has less storage space. Not surprising.

  11. Electric Feel - 7 years ago

    remember when Elon said he didnt just want to do a smaller Model S?
    Well that’s exactly what they did.

    They better do something before final release. I still want a hatch.

    • Kharan - 7 years ago

      Perhaps a Chevy Bolt for you than? 😛 I love the fact that Model 3 is a sedan, a smaller S with quite low and sporty silhouette 🙂

      • Electric feel - 7 years ago

        I would buy a leaf before a bolt….
        Still looking forward to the next gen leaf supposedly coming in 2017.

        As for tesla, if they make a hatch variant of the model 3 then that would be for me.

  12. Peter Thorsen - 7 years ago

    I have a S85D and to me what matters is not so much the amount of space as the presence of a secure place where I can put my laptop/briefcase when I don’t want to carry it around.

    If space is very important, one can always buy a RWD, in the S that makes a world of difference

  13. mike_xg@yahoo.com - 7 years ago

    You still have two trunks, though…

  14. RWF - 7 years ago

    Can’t go grocery shopping for a family? Sure you can. I do it in a Toyota Mr2 Spyder and I’ve done it in a Miata. People overestimate the space they need for their stuff. George Carlin nailed it.

    • Dan - 7 years ago

      I agree. There is plenty of space in the Model 3 prototypes. It all depends on how much junk you wanna haul around with you. Slim it down, it’ll fit! I never had a problem grocery shopping for a family when I had a Fiat X1/9 back in the 70s.

  15. Janet Morris - 7 years ago

    The basic needs to be a family car is rear trunk space
    Push Chair or pram, Wheelchair or Electric Mobility Scooter, Local Diy Folded Garden Mower, Bulky items Tumble Dryer and large boxes
    Hence a Hatchback rear door
    I am disabled and must have the room not a posh back door of little use

  16. Aas - 7 years ago

    Have you seen the frunk in BMW i3? If you’d have, you wouldn’t complain.

  17. Kush - 7 years ago

    Frunk looks totally fine. It’s not much smaller if at all than my 70D Model S.

  18. Heleauto - 7 years ago

    Maybe, but other cars dont even have it ;D

  19. Richard - 7 years ago

    Don’t overlook the fact that the “firewall” is a lot further forward than usual, together with the front passengers. That’s why there’s so much room in back. Lengthening the frunk forward just to make it bigger would completely destroy the proportions of the car!

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Avatar for Seth Weintraub Seth Weintraub

Publisher and Editorial Director of the 9to5/Electrek sites. Tesla Model 3, X and Chevy Bolt owner…5 ebikes and counting