Indian manufacturer Mahindra has been roughed up by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in court once more due to legal tension surrounding its Roxor side-by-side. As we've covered over the past three years, FCA has been pursuing a stop-sale order of the utility vehicle as it closely resembles its classic Jeep CJ models in six key areas. A judge supported Jeep's claims in November 2019 and now, the United States International Trade Commission has issued a similar ruling that spells bad news for Mahindra.
As Bloomberg first reported, the ITC announced the ruling via its website in a multi-page summary. Within the case documents, the commission confirmed that the Roxor was too similar in dress to Jeeps of yore and placed a limited exclusion order on Mahindra's infringing products. Likewise, a cease and desist was placed upon Mahindra & Mahindra Limited as well as Mahindra North America.
Fiat Chrysler has previously claimed in court that the Roxor was a “nearly identical copy” of its Jeep, down to the slots on its grille—older Roxors had four and a half while Jeeps have seven. Mahindra combated this argument by saying since the Roxor is strictly an off-road vehicle, that there's no way it could infringe on Jeep sales. Likewise, it touts different powertrain options like a three-cylinder turbodiesel, a new transmission, and a boxed steel frame that wasn't available on classic CJs.
Mahindra was originally licensed to build a vehicle similar to the Jeep CJ in 1947 in India, with the most recent renewal of that agreement coming in 2009. Along with that renewal, Mahindra considered selling a sport utility vehicle in the United States called the Scorpio, which again shared several design components with Jeeps. FCA greenlit the project, however, but only upon the grounds that the Scorpio wear a five-slot grille instead of seven.
Obviously, the Scorpio was never made available in America though Mahindra used this approval from Jeep to sell its Roxor on our shores. Given the United States' love for four-wheelers—consumers here bought up 60 percent of all off-roaders sold globally in 2018—Mahindra reckoned this would be its best shot at sales success. As a result, parts for the Roxor were manufactured in India then assembled at a Michigan facility.
After hearing Trade Judge Cameron Elliot's decision that the Roxor was too similar in dress to the relevant Jeeps, Mahindra moderately reconfigured the vehicle's design, doing away with the vertical slots completely. The oval headlights are also flush-mounted in the narrow oval grille, though the front fenders and rear-end remain reminiscent of the CJ. Jeep says Mahindra will “design right up to the line of infringement,” though any question of whether the new models should be allowed on the U.S. market will be answered later.
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