By on August 3, 2018

Mahindra ROXOR

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.

Mahindra ROXOR

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.

Mahindra ROXOR

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.

[Images: Mahindra]

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56 Comments on “Fiat Chrysler’s Not Happy With Mahindra’s Jeep Lookalike ATV...”


  • avatar
    IBx1

    Hope Chrysler wins this one. If mahindra wanted to make something like this, they should have designed it themselves.

    • 0 avatar
      Garrett

      You should study the history of the vehicle.

      Willys and Ford based their designs off of the Bantam prototype.

      Chrysler should loose if they try to bring this to court.

      • 0 avatar
        ect

        Really? What exactly should they “loose”? And qwouldn’t loosing something make whatever it was attached to less reliable, maybe even unsafe?

      • 0 avatar
        jalop1991

        So this is nothing more than the Apple-Microsoft battle–the one that Bill Gates put into perspective by saying, “Well, Steve, I think there’s more than one way of looking at it. I think it’s more like we both had this rich neighbor named Xerox and I broke into his house to steal the TV set and found out that you had already stolen it.”

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t the Roxor even more of an original Jeep than FCA’s current offerings? Wasn’t Mahindra given specific, legal permission to build a version of the original Jeep by Willys way back when? FCA calls the Roxor a “nearly identical copy.” Methinks it’s not a copy at all but the real thing – a brand-new 1940s Jeep.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Exactly. And, as lie2me said below, this doesn’t compete directly with the Wrangler, since its limited to off-road only.

      Its far more faithful to the original, but even still, it competes in a completely different sector of the market.

      • 0 avatar
        TwoBelugas

        it some states it does compete with the Wrangler since it can be driven on the surface streets.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus

          That’s quite far fetched. There is not a Wrangler that is limited to 45 MPH and only on certain roads in certain states.

          “Gee, honey, we could buy a Wrangler that I can drive to work everyday at normal speeds, not to mention in the rain, or I can buy this that makes my 30 minute commute take 3 hours and I have to use hand signals, avoid highways, and stop and wait if it rains.”

          They’re SO close, clearly.

          • 0 avatar
            Flipper35

            Her in the rural midwest you can legally drive your ATV on all the county roads that do not have a center stripe and on surface streets. I can see the Mahindra doing well in sales here because it would be cheap to run for the farmers and uses the same fuel as their tractors. Need to check on the cows in the back 40 and then run to town for some bread and bacon? Take the Roxor. They already do with the other ATVs.

      • 0 avatar

        I think FCA is feeling the “Once they get started we’re in deep sh*t” thing.

        Nothing stopping them from crossing over into federalized vehicles once they get a brand toehold. And their products will always be cheaper than the rather expensive offerings from Jeep.

    • 0 avatar
      legacygt

      Agreed. This looks more “like a Jeep” than anything Jeep is selling.

      While it’s clear that this car rips off the essence of Jeep style, it’s hilarious when the lawyers need to define precisely what that is. Their goal is clearly a precise definition but the result is anything but: “boxy body shape with flat-appearing vertical sides and rear body ending at about the same height as the hood”

      • 0 avatar
        TwoBelugas

        “This looks more “like a Jeep” than anything Jeep is selling. ”

        Stupid Jeep, having to keep up with all current federal safety, emissions, fuel economy, etc road-going vehicle rules when they could have just ignored all that, keep making copies of CJs and slapped on a “off road only” sticker like Pepboys fog lights.

        And there is no way Jeep can sell a OHV version of the Wrangler at what the Mahindra is selling for without also importing all components as knock-down kits and only do the final assembly somewhere in the NAFTA zone.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus

          So, you point out how unlike each other they are, yet above, you’re basically insinuating that they’re exactly the same since this can be driven on certain roads in certain areas.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        “While it’s clear that this car rips off the essence of Jeep style”

        The thing is this is NOT a car, it’s basically a toy

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          “The thing is this is NOT a car, it’s basically a toy”

          To be the devil’s advocate, how is a Wrangler not a toy?

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            The Wrangler is a completely street legal car, which means it has all the required safety and tech, the other does not making it a toy, or if you prefer, a golf cart

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            @Lie2me – one could argue that anything that one has that does not put food on the table is a luxury and/or toy.
            I know exactly what you mean, the Roxor for most people would be used like an ATV which also for most people is a recreational vehicle aka toy.

      • 0 avatar
        Erikstrawn

        “boxy body shape with flat-appearing vertical sides and rear body ending at about the same height as the hood.”

        Couldn’t the case be made that the above sentence also describes a Land Rover and a Hummer?

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Oh, please, it’s not even street-legal. It may look like a Jeep, but it can’t compete with a Jeep

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      I remember a few years back there was an IP/trademark case that went all the way to the US Supreme Court. Victoria’s Secret had sued a small ABS that went by the name Victor’s Secret.

      IIRC the court ultimately ruled: “Nobody is going to confuse the two of you” and told Victoria’s Secret to go pound sand.

      This case seems a bit similar IMHO.

      • 0 avatar
        MRF 95 T-Bird

        IIRC there was a copyright lawsuit by Daimler Chrysler suing GM/Hummer over the 7 slot grill design. Probably a bit of a stretch but this seems like a knockoff.

    • 0 avatar
      ptschett

      Actually, in the Dakotas, this could be street-legalized. In SD it would be forbidden only from the interstates, in ND it would be able to go everywhere but the interstates & the highways with speed limits over 65 MPH (basically rural divided 4-lanes like US-2 across most of the state or US-83 between Bismarck and Minot.) A few other states have similar rules.

      • 0 avatar
        TwoBelugas

        And there are states where you can plate pretty much anything that moves, like the states where grey market imports have no trouble getting “plated”.

    • 0 avatar
      deanst

      The problem is that if FCA doesn’t complain now, they weaken their case if Mahindra decides to make a street legal version.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        Lol, you act as though all they’d need to do is throw some wipers and turn signals on it and call it good. Do you have any idea what it would take to make this thing have any hope in hell of passing a crash test here? It would need a COMPLETE redesign with virtually nothing carried over from this vehicle.

        If they did that, and it still bore a strong resemblance to the Wrangler, FCA might have a case.

        • 0 avatar
          ptschett

          A horn, rearview mirror, front/rear lights and license plate light are enough in the Dakotas. Wiper, turn signals, crash test not needed to become sufficiently road-legal to drive this on most roads in either state.

        • 0 avatar
          Flipper35

          Again, in my state the side by sides are legal on all streets and roads that do not have a center stripe marked. They do not have to be licensed at all and the driver doesn’t have to be licensed. Stupid law as far as I am concerned, but it is the law. They are treated the same as farm implements.

  • avatar
    John

    Mahindra has no right to use the Jeep IP. FCA owns and retains full rights in the Jeep IP and has not granted a license to Mahindra to use the Jeep IP in any country, including the United States. FCA’s predecessors did have prior dealings with Mahindra India, granting Mahindra India limited contractual rights to manufacture and/or sell Jeep branded components and products in India beginning in the 1940s. And none of those contracts at any time granted Mahindra India (or any other Mahindra entity) ownership rights over Jeep brand-related intellectual property. Nor did any of these past agreements grant any rights to manufacture, sell, or advertise vehicles, such as the Accused Products, incorporating the Jeep IP in the United States”, FCA said.

    FCA claims that the boxy body shape with flat appearing vertical side and rear body panels ending at about the same height as the hood, substantially flat hood with curved side edges that tapers to be narrower at the front, trapezoidal front wheel wells with front fenders or fender flares that extend beyond the front of the grille, flat appearing grille with vertical elongated grille slots and a trapezoidal outline that curves around round headlamps positioned on the upper part of the grille, exterior hood latches and door cutouts above a bottom portion of the side body panels have been lifted from the Jeep IP.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve Biro

      I understand why FCA doesn’t like this. Jeep, Ram and possibly Maserati are the only parts of the company making money. But I’m not sure they’ll win.

      And if Mahindra’s contract with Willys didn’t specifically limit how long they could make Jeeps and where they could sell them, then I’m not sure that FCA should win.

      But, copyright laws being what they are, FCA probably needs to take Mahindra to court on this vehicle just so it can do so against anyone else down the road.

    • 0 avatar
      jdmcomp

      According to many stories preceding this one, Mahindra obtained a license in 1948 and renewed it with each owner of Jeep. So, yes, they do have the right to build this vehicle. As for the language of the license, the courts will have to figure this one out. If i were Fiat I would have made the same claims, but I think Mihindra also has looked into this and feels it is justified. Further, this design was done for the US government and that design may well be in the public sphere by now (80 years later).

  • avatar
    MrGreenMan

    In the Era of Trump, there’s an opportunity for a win-win-win:

    a. Get rid of the fuel economy standards.
    b. Build a giant Jeep Ultimate Grand Wagoneer Trail Rated Limited Edition Honorable Mention
    c. As part of flip-and-fold technology, hide a Mahindra Almost-Jeep in there as a separate utility vehicle for getting between the Jeep Ultimate Grand Wagoneer and the CostCo main door. I think the Almost-Jeep might be small enough to put down the aisles at Costco, meaning you wouldn’t even need carts anymore.
    d. Make a cheaper Dodge version as well.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    Sounds like this issue could be a “jobs program” for attorneys.

    BTW are these on sale yet in the US? I assume a bunch of them will assume the identity of dead Jeeps and take to the streets.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    This reminds me of McDonald’s vs. McDowell’s in “Coming to America”. I don’t recall who won. Funny film though.

  • avatar
    Prado

    While this complaint seem legitimate, And despite the Jeep brand doing very well, …. to me it is a huge ‘lost opportunity’ that Jeep is not a player in UTVs and Side by Sides. The only vehicle Jeep has with real off-road capability is rather expensive now.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve Biro

      If FCA was smart, it would get together with Mahindra and sell these things in Jeep dealerships. And sell federalized Mahindra small pickups in Ram dealerships

  • avatar
    Russycle

    The “Jeep shape” has existed for over 70 years now. In a sane world that would put it in the public domain. I guess Ford missed the boat by not patenting the pickup when he put a flatbed on the Model T.

  • avatar
    Tstag

    What IPR does Jeep actually own? Reason for asking is that I thought Ford also manufactured a version of the Jeep and that the original version was designed by the US Army and presumably licensed down to Ford and Willy’s. Therefore does Ford not have the right to build the iconic 4×4 as well and shouldn’t it be the US Army blocking Mahindra?

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      The US Army issued an RFP(request for proposal) requesting a quarter-ton utility vehicle. American Bantam designed the winning proposal, which would come to be known as the Jeep. American Bantam was too small to build the Jeep at the required rate, so the Army granted production contracts of the American Bantam GPV to Ford and Willys. How that makes Fiat the rightful holder of the IP is anyone’s guess. A current Wrangler has more in common with a Ford Bronco than it does with a real GPV. The Mahindra is a GPV with a diesel engine. They should sue Fiat to cease and desist making 1.5:1 scale replicas.

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    Hmmm lets think about this. Would I want to take one of these on a gnarly 4×4 road, or a current four door Wrangler?

    • 0 avatar
      TwoBelugas

      Why not comparing it to the current two door Wrangler? They still make those, you know.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        Okay: I’d pick the Mahindra over the current 2 door wrangler, which is starting to look increasingly disproportionate in terms of width/length. How much narrower is this Roxor than a JK or the new one? It’s gotta be over a foot.

  • avatar
    FerrariLaFerrariFace

    How in holy hell does that thing weigh 3000 pounds?

  • avatar
    Tstag

    Just been reading about the history of the Jeep. It was actually designed by American Bantam and then taken up by the US Military who got Willy’s to further develop it and Ford then made copies of the wilys version. After WW2 there were many lookalikes. All of which kind of makes me wonder how water right Jeeps case will prove!

    Land Rover are stamping on anyone who try’s to copy the look of the Defender. Thing is they clearly styled it and were careful around licensing. Interesting stuff..

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    This is all dependent on what the contract between Willys and Mahindra says. Until we know that, we know nothing about the merits of FCA’s case.

  • avatar
    Tree Trunk

    A quick online search shows that it is possible to remove the speed limiter and add the windshield and other things needed to transform the Roxor from an off-road toy to something functioning more like a car.

    When that is said and done the Roxor can be registered as a street legal vehicle in many states, which makes the lawsuit more understandable. Why spend 30K on a new Wrangler when the retro version can be had for 15K?

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