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4 May 2021

7 months after going on sale, MG can finally say whether owners of its electric estate car can use the roof rails

Key testing of the MG5 EV hadn't been carried out, so owners had been told not to put anything on the roof
MG5 EV electric estate

After initially marketing the all-electric MG5 EV as having a roof carry capacity of 50kg, then backtracking and telling owners not to put anything on the roof, MG should soon be able to confirm that owners can actually add 35kg of luggage to the car's roof rails. Seven months after the car first went on sale.

It's been a rather strange journey for those who have bought an MG5 EV, the first electric estate car to be sold in the UK.

When the car went on sale in October 2020, the car's brochure said the estate had a roof carrying capacity of 50kg.

Shortly after the first three models were delivered to new owners in December, it came to MG's attention that key testing had not been done and therefore it could not confirm how much load can be carried on the car's roof.

Rather than stopping sales of the car, MG changed the brochure to remove mentions of the roof carrying capacity, and altered/changed images to eliminate pictures of the car carrying items on its roof.

The car's manual stated that the roof rails were not load bearing and were in fact actually decorative only. It said using the roof rails to carry anything 'may result in an accident or damage to the vehicle.'

But now, that is to be reversed.

The latest development is that the roof capacity should soon be confirmed as 35kg, once final signoff has been received from the UK vehicle standards body, the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA), following a long series of tests.

This is 15kg less than originally stated when the car first went on sale - but at least the roof rails will no longer be decorative.

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MG5 EV with bike on roof rails
The cover image from the original brochure for the MG5 EV

Why did this happen?

MG told us a validation testing procedure was missed due to human error, and the company has since amended its processes to prevent it recurring.

Similarly, the original stated capacity of 50kg was also a result of human error.

While MG says only three cars were sold while the brochure stated 50kg, since the website and brochure was updated in December, MG went on to sell 875 models with roof rails.

The message in the MG5 EV manual that warned people not to use the roof rails:

Excerpt from MG5 EV manual warnign people not to u

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What is MG doing?

Once signoff from the VCA has been secured, MG will contact all existing owners to inform them of the change. It will also supply an update to the car's handbook.

A spokesperson for MG told us that it 'will write to every owner to tell them that their car is approved to carry a 35kg load on the roof rails.

'We will include an addendum to be added to the printed owners handbook they received with the vehicle. This will replace the instructions that the roof rails are not suitable for load carrying with a statement to define the 35kg approved load.

'Any owners who do not receive the communication will be followed up when the cars come to a dealer for servicing.'

MG5 EV estate picture of front

Why did it take so long?

MG has confirmed the latest tests were successfully completed on 23 April 2021, and the report and VCA approval are expected imminently.

'The testing itself takes time, particularly durability testing which requires the simulation of the lifecycle of the vehicle.

'We are also governed by the timelines of the regulatory bodies who need to review and respond to our activity. Our first report was submitted nine weeks after the issue was discovered.'

DVSA has no issue with decorative roof rails

While it turned out the roof rails on the MG5 EV are actually load bearing, the DVSA has no issue with roof rails that are aesthetic - despite the potential safety risks that non-load bearing roof rails may pose.

A DVSA spokeseperson told us 'It is acceptable for a manufacturer to fit decorative roof rails to a vehicle.

'They must tell customers that they are for aesthetic purposes and are not to be used to carry a load.'

If you are buying a car that has roof rails and want to carry luggage on the roof, do check they are not purely decorative - particularly if you are buying a used car. You can find this information in either the car's manual or on the manufacturer's website.

Buying a used model can save you a fortune, compared to brand new - provided you know what you're doing. Use our expert advice on how to buy the best used car.