Fiat Chrysler's Not Happy With Mahindra's Jeep Lookalike ATV
Imitation, they say, is the sincerest form of flattery, but Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is none too pleased with an Indian automaker’s plan to foist a Jeep CJ-like all-terrain vehicle on the United States market.
Mahindra & Mahindra’s Roxor is a larger ATV with a conventional layout and appearance that splits the difference between brush-busting fare from Polaris, et al, and road-legal off-roaders like the Jeep Wrangler. There’s a 2.5-liter inline-four diesel up front, and drivers put the power to all four wheels via an honest-to-goodness five-speed manual transmission. Oh, and it really, really looks like a Jeep CJ. We’re gaga over them.
FCA sure isn’t.
Production kicked off at Mahindra’s Michigan assembly facility this spring, but FCA’s only just now speaking out against it. Hoping to halt sales, the automaker filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission, claiming the Roxor infringes on the designs of its Jeep division.
Mahindra assembles the Roxor via knock-down kits imported from India. There, the vehicle is road legal.
In FCA’s August 1st complaint (obtained by Bloomberg), FCA mentions the Roxor’s “boxy body shape with flat-appearing vertical sides and rear body ending at about the same height as the hood.” The automaker included photos of its vehicle and the Roxor side-by-side.
“They are a nearly identical copy of the iconic Jeep design,” FCA stated, adding that the Roxor was “modeled after the original Willys Jeep.”
Mahindra sees the Roxor as its best bet to get established in North America. In recent years, the Indian auto giant spent nearly a quarter-billion dollars setting up an assembly plant in suburban Detroit, plus technical and engineering facilities in Troy.
Sales began in March via a network of 300 ATV retailers. While the Roxor isn’t rated for highway duties (it lacks turn signals and windshield wipers), its steel body, 62 horsepower and 144 lb-ft of torque, and generous proportions set it apart from other ATVs. Top speed is limited to 45 mph. Pricing starts at $15,549 for the 3,035-pound vehicle, plus a destination charge.
According to Richard Haas, president and CEO of Mahindra Automotive North America, the Roxor is in a class all its own. “It’s a very different vehicle – we think it makes its own subset,” Haas told Wards Auto in March. “It’s much more capable than what’s out there today.”
Clearly, FCA sees the Roxor becoming popular, thus watering down Jeep’s heritage and brand recognition. In its complaint, FCA said the Roxor’s entry into the U.S. amounts to “underselling Jeeps,” noting the Indian automaker’s “substantial foreign manufacturing capacity combined with its demonstrated intention to penetrate the United States market and harm FCA’s goodwill and business.”
Given that Jeep is FCA’s biggest money maker and its greatest hope for world domination, the company’s complaint has legs. But that doesn’t stop us from wanting a Roxor.
What a cutie.
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