FCA contends the Indian-built Mahindra Roxor copies the design of the iconic Jeep CJ.
Back in March, news emerged that Mahinda, a multinational Indian manufacturer, would sell its Roxor off-roader in the United States. “Great!”, you may think – another brand to compete with the likes of Honda, Polaris, Kawasaki and company. It is, after all, more of an off-road toy, than anything. It is not currently road legal. However, there’s a problem, and you can sum it up in three succinct letters. F – C – A. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles filed a trade complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission August 1st to block the Roxor’s sales in the U.S.
The problem stems from the Mahindra’s design. The company has built licensed versions of the Willys Jeep for decades. They even describe the Roxor as “the original off-road vehicle with a 70-year heritage”. And that’s fine, so long as it stays outside the U.S. market. Since Mahindra seeks to sell the Roxor in America, however, FCA asserts it infringes upon key aspects of the original Jeep design.
We couldn’t help but compare it to an original CJ Jeep. That is the crux of FCA’s argument as well, as Automotive News‘ coverage of the complaint shows. The filing states, “They are nearly an identical copy of the iconic Jeep design. In fact, the accused product was modeled after the original Willys Jeep.” FCA also said Roxor imports threaten to undercut Jeep Wrangler sales. If Jeep’s sales trends continue and FCA relies more on the brand’s sales to grow, the company contends Mahindra may substantially impact its business operations.
Setting up shop in the U.S.
Mahindra & Mahindra established a North American headquarters in Michigan last year. In November 2017, the company invested $600 million in a new facility. The plan is to employ 670 workers and assemble knock-down kits originally manufactured in India. The Roxor is powered by a 2.5-liter turbodiesel engine and has a top speed of just 45 mph. On that basis, it won’t directly compete with the Wrangler in any sense.
We’ve reached out to Mahindra and FCA for comment, and will report back when we get a response. Stay tuned to TFLoffroad.com for more updates!
Update added Aug.4 2018: Mahindra offered TFL a comment on the situation from Rich Ansell, Vice President of Mahindra Automotive North America: “We understand that a complaint has been filed by FCA with the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) against Mahindra. Mahindra has not yet been served with the complaint and we prefer not to comment at length on the dispute at this time. However, we have reviewed FCA’s core filing and find it to be without merit. Mahindra has a historic relationship and agreements with FCA and its predecessors that go back seventy years. The relationship began in the 1940’s with the original agreement with Willys and continues to this day, with the most recent agreement executed with FCA (then Chrysler Group LLC) in 2009. Our actions, products, and product distribution (including ROXOR) both honor the legacy of the relationship and the terms of our agreements with FCA. Mahindra has been co-existing with FCA (and the Jeep brand) for over 25 years in India and in many other countries. The ROXOR is a derivative of Mahindra vehicles distributed in those markets. Based on these agreements and our history, we believe that FCA’s claims are baseless and Mahindra is well within its rights to both manufacture and distribute the ROXOR off-road vehicle.”