Here at Transport Evolved, we’ve become fairly used to dispelling all kinds of electric car misinformation over the years, ranging from claims that electric cars need replacement batteries every few years through to explaining that not all Republicans are oil-rich barons keen to see the end of the electric car.
We’ve even busted stories from other outlets, pointing out when we feel it necessary when another site has got something wrong. And in the same way, we’d hope other sides do the same to us too.
But today we find ourselves challenging the assertion that a Nissan LEAF can carry more cargo than a Tesla Model X, a fabulous headline-grabbing statement that depends on some very fuzzy logic in order to justify the claim.
How has this strange conceit been given legitimacy? Misinterpretation of the video uploaded a month ago to the Like Tesla YouTube channel by several lesser-known (and less journalistic) news sites and blogs out there, as well as some which really should know better.
The original YouTube Video focuses on the cargo-carrying capabilities of both cars as the channel’s hosts try to decide if they should take their Nissan LEAF hatchback or Tesla Model X on a trip to pick up a new coffee table. Given that the Tesla Model X’s second row seats do not fold flat, the couple measured the distance from the rear of the second-row seats to the Model X’s rear hatch and compared it to distance between the back of the front-row seats on the Nissan LEAF and its rear hatch. While the Model X measured some 42 inches from the rear of the second row seats to the hatch, the Nissan LEAF had 67 inches from the rear of the front seats to the rear hatch.
The conclusion? That the Nissan LEAF has a far larger cargo-carrying capability than the Tesla Model X, demonstrated by the fact that the couple’s new coffee table would fit in the rear of the affordable family hatchback but not in the rear of the luxury plug-in SUV. But while the video provides proof that, if you’re looking to carry large or bulky objects, a Nissan LEAF may beat a Tesla Model X in terms of practicality, its message has been contorted badly in subsequent reporting, leaving us the task of providing some much-needed context to the claim.
Firstly, the video is correct: for large or bulky object (longer than 42-inches in length and less than 67 inches in length) the Nissan LEAF does appear to be the better load hauler than the Model X. Second, it also does an excellent job of pointing out Tesla’s folly of making the second-row seats in the Model X fixed rather than foldable, something many a Tesla customer has bemoaned and which pretty much every other SUV on the market today manages to do in order to provide cavernous load carrying capabilities.
But if we examine sheer load carrying capability as a function of volume, the Tesla Model X comes up trumps. That’s because in addition to the rear load-carrying space in the Model X (not to mention the under-floor storage area in the rear load bay) there’s the Frunk up front which, while it can’t handle a huge amount of luggage, can accommodate a modestly sized box or suitcase.
Let’s also not forget the area taken up by the second-row seats. While it can’t be used to give additional contiguous space to the load bay area, that second-row seat area can be used for luggage at a push, either storing smaller suitcases and boxes in the second-row footwells or on the seats themselves (provided of course they are secured correctly to prevent them flying forward in the event of a collision).
Still not convinced? On paper, Tesla quotes the Model X as having 77 cubic feet of storage space with the rear seats down, while the Tesla Model S comes up with around 63.4 cubic feet of storage space. The Nissan LEAF, with its rear seats down, measures 30 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down.
So why does the LEAF appear bigger? It’s all down to contiguous load bay space, or to put it in plain english, all the cargo space is in one place not spread out in different parts of the vehicle. Does this mean the LEAF can haul more than a Model X? Absolutely not. It just means the Nissan LEAF is better at handling bulky items than the Model X, at least if you’re looking to transport said items within the vehicle.
And that’s before we even look at towing: the Model X has been designed to tow up to 5,000 pounds when fitted with appropriate wheels and Tesla’s own towing package, while the Nissan LEAF isn’t designed to tow at all (although we’ll acknowledge many owners do).
Does the video really claim the Nissan LEAF can carry more than a Model X? Not really. While the language is ambiguous and probably helped in the confusion of those covering the story, this particular story isn’t quite what it seems.
As the saying goes, the Devil is in the detail. On this occasion, that detail makes a whole world of difference.
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