Mahindra fights FCA's Jeep infringement claims
31 Août 2018 - Autoblog
Mahindra wants to keep building the Roxor in Michigan
The Indian manufacturer Mahindra is fighting tooth and nail to keep building its Roxor off-road vehicle to sell in the United States.
In early August, Jeep mother company FCA filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission to stop Roxor sales in the U.S. FCA claims the Roxor design is an intellectual property infringement on Jeep design, meant to undercut FCA's own Jeep products on the market.
Now Mahindra has released a statement to the commission saying that FCA's complaint is without merit. While FCA stated in its claim that the Roxor is "an imported low-quality knock-off kit car," Mahindra points out that the vehicle took several years to develop and is manufactured in Michigan. Mahindra intends the Roxor to be an off-road vehicle only, and says it does not compete with Jeeps. The Roxor isn't road legal, only comes with a diesel engine and reaches a top speed of only 45 mph. However, it has to be said that the uncomplicated Roxor is far closer to the original ethos of WWII-era Jeeps than the Jeeps FCA currently manufactures.
Mahindra also states that FCA agreed in 2009 not to bring about infringement claims as long as Mahindra used a grille design that FCA approved — going with a grille design that clearly differs from the classic Jeep trademark grille. The matter might partially muddled by the fact that the grille agreement was made with 2009's Chrysler instead of today's FCA. Looking back several decades, the entire Mahindra Roxor appearance is at its core based on a 1940s license agreement made with Willys, the original Jeep manufacturer.
Mahindra's statement addresses FCA as "Fiat," and it should not be forgotten that Fiat itself manufactured a Jeep lookalike, the Campagnola, from 1951 to 1973 — also with a different grille. Fiat Industrial subsidiary Iveco's history page says the 1951 Campagnola was constructed "according to the Willys mould".
Mahindra claims that FCA is using the complaint to create negative publicity to damage Mahindra's reputation. The Indian manufacturer reminds us that it is the first automotive OEM to set up a new manufacturing operation in southeast Michigan in over 25 years — in Auburn Hills, not far from FCA's U.S. headquarters.