A car manufacturer has left customers dumbfounded after it emerged the roof rails on one of its electric estate cars are unable carry any weight.
If drivers ignore this detail it could ‘result in an accident or damage to the vehicle’.
That’s despite the brand’s optional accessories for the model including roof bars for an extra £228 and a £192 cycle carrier that can only be purchased along with the former for a total of £420.
MG’s 5 EV, an all-electric family estate car priced from £24,495, had previously been advertised online and in brochures with a 50kg roof carrying capacity.
Off the rails: MG Motor says the roof rails for its £25,000 MG5 EV family estate car are for ‘decorative purposes only’ and that it is not safe to put any weight on them
However, after ordering the car, a customer was shocked to find that the manual states that the rails are for ‘decoration purposes only’ and it is potentially unsafe to bear any weight on them at all.
In the manual, alongside a warning sign, MG says that the optional roof luggage rack for the car is a ‘non-load-bearing roof rack, which is used only as a decoration’.
It adds: ‘Do not place any load on the roof luggage rack, otherwise it may result in an accident or damage to the vehicle.’
Following complaints from a customer who spotted the significant flaw with the feature, MG has since swapped images in its brochure and online, now showing the roof rails with nothing on them rather than with a bike stored on top.
The entire roof carrying capacity section has since been removed from the sales material, which also fails to clearly state that the rails are purely for decorative purposes and are not suitable for carrying load.
The issue has been highlighted by consumer group, Which?, after the shortcomings of the accessories were brought to its attention by a member.
Les Burrows, 74, placed an order for the MG5 EV at the start of November.
However, having downloaded the car’s 267-page manual, he spotted on page 62 wording saying the roof rails are unsuitable for carrying a roof rack and are for decoration purposes only.
He was even more concerned by the claim that placing any weight on the roof could result in damage or even an accident.
A Which? reader found the reference to the roof rails not being suitable to carry any load on page 62 of the owner’s manual for the car
Before and after: The car was previously shown online with a roof rack fitted to the car. However, this has since been changed to show the rails carrying nothing at all
The roof rack option has also since been removed from the accessories section of the 5 EV’s brochure
In messages to MG customer services and then in a letter to the managing director, Mr Burrows raised the safety concern and refused to take delivery of the car until the issue had been resolved.
He also called on the car maker – owned by Chinese firm SAIC (Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation) Motor – to remove the rails from future cars and recall those that have already been sold.
‘He pointed out if people did not know about the rails being for decorative use only, and should someone try to use them to carry objects like bicycles and roof boxes, it could lead to a serious accident if the roof rails came loose as they were carrying a load they are not designed to do,’ explained Which?.
In a response from MG last month, the car maker told Mr Burrows: ‘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.’
MG also confirmed to the disgruntled customer that – if the car is sold privately – it is the responsibility of the current owner to inform the next keeper that they are not allowed to carry anything on the roof rails.
If the motor is sold by a dealer, the information would need to be passed on by the retailer to the customer.
Having been contacted by the consumer organisation, MG said it has no plans to issue a recall for the item.
Left: The ‘MG Aero Roof Bars’ cost £228 extra to have fitted and are designed to carry luggage. Right: The £192 ‘Roof Cycle Carrier’ are also available, but can only be purchased along with the aero bars for a total of £420
MG told This is Money that it is waiting for clarification from its engineers about if the roof rails can carry any weight
This is Money contacted MG Motor UK Limited for clarification of the load capacity and if the roof rails and other accessories are unable to carry weight.
A spokesman for the brand said: ‘As a vehicle importer we take the safety of our cars and our customers very seriously.
‘With MG5 EV, we initially believed that the car was approved to carry weight on its roof, but we have since become aware of some missing engineering data meaning that we are – at present – unable to confirm this, so have taken the safest possible action of advising our customers not to carry a load on the roof until we can confirm otherwise.
‘We have already carried out testing with mass being carried on the car’s roof rails and have seen satisfactory results but are awaiting the final confirmation from durability testing that is still ongoing.
‘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.’
Natalie Hitchins, head of home products and services at Which?, said it was MG’s responsibility to ‘urgently clarify’ if the roof rails on its cars can be used.
‘If the roof rails are purely decorative and cannot bear any load, we’d expect MG to immediately inform customers, recall this model and remove the rails,’ she said.
MG told This is Money that owners of the MG5 EV who want to carry any load on their roof can be supplied with a replacement vehicle for the journeys on request.
‘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,’ the spokesman said.
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