Indian car maker Mahindra has pushed back against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA)'s recent attempt to block Mahindra from importing the Roxor SUV to the US, claiming that FCA's complaint is "without merit".
FCA recently attempted to block Mahindra from importing the Roxor to the US, claiming that it copies the design of the original Willys Jeep.
The Mahindra Roxor, a two-seat all-terrain vehicle with retro Jeep styling, isn’t permitted for use on US roads, and is instead classed as a Utility Task Vehicle.
Mahindra claims that it reached a deal with FCA in 2009, that FCA would not take any action against Mahindra for the Roxor if the Indian brand used an FCA-approved grille for the car. "The Roxor uses that grille," Mahindra said. "We are also arguing that Fiat is using the case to harm our Roxor business by creating negative publicity, damaging our reputation and our stature in the marketplace."
"The Roxor is a vehicle that was always intended only as an off-road vehicle, does not compete with Fiat vehicles, is manufactured and assembled in the first OEM plant to be built in Michigan, USA, in the last 25 years, was the result of more than three years of research and development, and categorically rejected the notion that the Roxor was an imported low quality “knock-off” kit car."
Bloomberg reports that FCA's complaint to the US International Trade Commission alleges that the Roxor infringes upon Jeep’s “boxy body shape with flat-appearing vertical sides and rear body ending at about the same height as the hood”, and that the Indian brand’s selling of the Roxor in the US infringes on key characteristics of its cars.
“They are a nearly identical copy of the iconic Jeep design; in fact, the accused product was ‘modelled after the original Willys Jeep'." The 1377kg, 3759mm long, 1574mm wide Roxor is 480mm shorter and 303mm narrower than the smallest, two-door Wrangler and is nearer the size of the Suzuki Jimny.
The Roxor uses a 2.5-litre four-cylinder diesel engine producing 62bhp and 144lb ft of torque - 63lb ft more than the current Jimny. These give the Roxor a top speed of 45mph.
The Roxor is priced from $14,999 (around £11,500) in the US - around half of what Jeep charges for the entry-level Wrangler. FCA cited Mahindra’s “substantial foreign manufacturing capacity, combined with its demonstrated intention to penetrate the US market and harm FCA’s goodwill and business”, as a reason for the complaint.
A Mahindra spokesman has been contacted for comment.