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15 Jan 2021

Could confusion over the new MG electric estate car 'result in an accident'?

Even MG is not sure if you can carry anything on the MG5 EV's roof
MG5 EV with bike on roof rails

It's been a confusing few months for those who have ordered or shown interest in the UK's first all-electric estate car.

The brochure for MG's electric estate originally stated the car has a 50kg roof-carrying capacity. Additionally, MG's website and even early car reviews published in September and October 2020 showed pictures of the car's roof rails in use.

But the car's manual states the roof rails are for decorative purposes only. In the manual, MG says that using them to carry anything 'may result in an accident or damage to the vehicle'.

Cue complaints, and MG swapping images in its brochure and online to show roof rails with nothing on them.

Before and after - the accessories page of the MG5 EV altered to remove the bike rack

The entire roof-carrying capacity section was also removed from the brochure and doesn't seem to mention anywhere that the roof rails are purely decorative. It arguably would have been much clearer to state a carrying capacity of 0kg.

Then, to add to the confusion, it was briefly mentioned online in forums on 15 January 2021 (as it appears dealers received information) that the MG estate car may indeed have a limited carrying capacity of 35kg.

But MG itself can't confirm. A spokesperson told us: 'We are waiting for confirmation from our engineering team, who have been working on this for several months.'

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Decorative rails: MG had no plans to recall or remove them

Which? member Les Burrows, 74, placed an order for the MG5 EV at the start of November and separately paid £900 to have a wall charger installed at his home so he could charge his new vehicle.

But a few days after placing the order, Les downloaded the 267-page manual. He was rather taken aback when, on p62, he came across wording saying the roof rails are for decorative purposes only:

Excerpt from MG5 EV manual warnign people not to u

In messages to MG customer services and then in a letter to its managing director, Mr Burrows raised safety concerns and refused to take delivery of the car until it had been sorted.

He also called on MG to remove the rails from future cars and recall those that have already been sold.

He pointed out that if people didn't know about the rails being for decorative use only, and should someone try to use them to carry objects such as bicycles and roof boxes, it could lead to a serious accident if the roof rails came loose as they were carrying a load they're not designed to do.

MG wrote back to him on the 29 December and confirmed 'We spoken [sic] to our management team and we are sorry to confirm that the roof rails on the MG5 EV will not be removed, and the rails will remain as a specification of the model, for decorative use only.'

MG5 EV bike removed from roof rails
The updated brochure shows empty roof rails

MG: the current owner must tell the next one

In the same message, MG also confirmed to Mr Burrows that as the specs have changed, it would be his responsibility as the current owner to inform the next owner (should he sell it privately) that the car is not allowed to carry anything on the supplied roof rails.

message to which member
MG confirms it is the responsibility of the member to pass along this information to subsequent buyers

Natalie Hitchins, head of home products and services at Which?, said:

'MG must urgently clarify if the roof rails on its cars can be used.

'If the roof rails are purely decorative and can't bear any load, we'd expect MG to immediately inform customers, recall this model and remove the rails.'

We have contacted MG again and are awaiting answers to several questions. We will update this story as we learn more.

MG says

A spokesperson from MG has told us: 'It is our belief and we hope to be able to confirm very shortly that there is no concern with carrying weight on the car's roof. But until we have satisfactorily validated this we do not wish to confirm it.

'In the meantime, while this approval process concludes, we are happy to allow MG5 EV customers use of our ZS EV electric model free of charge and as a gesture of goodwill if they need to carry a roof load on their vehicle and they should contact their supplying dealer to arrange this.'

(Updated 18 January 2021 to include quote from MG spokesperson.)