UPDATE 8/29/2018: Mahindra has fired back, claiming Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ patent complaint is without merit. More information is below.
FCA has filed a formal complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission to block the sale of the Mahindra Roxor in the United States. India’s Mahindra & Mahindra has set up shop in the Detroit suburb of Auburn Hills to produce the Roxor from knock-down kits.
The Roxor, which is based on the design of the original Willys Jeep, does not meet current U.S. vehicle standards and is to be sold as an off-highway vehicle. It’s powered by a turbo-diesel 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine backed by a five-speed manual transmission. With 62 horsepower and 144 lb-ft of torque, it’s good for a top speed of 45 mph.
As reported by Bloomberg, Fiat Chrysler’s complaint asserts that the Roxor is “a nearly identical copy of the iconic Jeep design” and that the vehicle was “modelled after the original Willys Jeep.”
With an overall length of approximately 148 inches and a 98.0-inch wheelbase, the Roxor is roughly the size of a CJ7; the current JL Wrangler in two-door form has a 96.8-inch wheelbase and is 166.8 inches long. Mahindra advertises the Roxor at $15,899 for a base unit, versus $28,940 for a base two-door JL Wrangler.
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In its complaint, FCA further cites Mahindra’s “demonstrated intention to penetrate the United States market and harm FCA’s goodwill and business.” Is an off-highway Indian four-by-four clearly based on a Jeep design damaging to Jeep’s current business? It looks as if that will be a question for the lawyers to decide.
UPDATE 8/29/2018: Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. and its Mahindra Automotive North America division filed a public interest statement with the trade commission on August 22 asserting that the recent complaint filed by FCA U.S. LLC is without merit, and has begun proceedings in a Michigan court to enforce a design agreement that it claims to have executed with Fiat in 2009.
Mahindra is asking the court to block Fiat from participating in the complaint it filed earlier with the International Trade Commission-an injunction-citing an agreement reached with Fiat in 2009 that it would never bring such claims if Mahindra used a grille approved by Fiat. It is Mahindra’s position that the Roxor uses an approved grille. Mahindra also argues that Fiat is using the ITC case to harm Roxor business by "creating negative publicity, damaging its reputation and stature in the marketplace."
Mahindra maintains this action is not only to state its position on the Roxor grille issue, but also to correct inaccuracies regarding Mahindra as a company and the Roxor as a product. Mahindra continues that the Roxor was always intended as an off-road-only vehicle, and therefore does not compete with FCA vehicles. As it is manufactured and assembled in Mahindra’s new plant in Michigan, it categorically rejects the notion that the Roxor was an imported, low-quality, knock-off kit car.
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