The Jeep Wrangler has changed a lot over the years, but if you park one next to an old CJ-5, the family lineage is still clear. So if another automaker decided to start selling a CJ-inspired SUV, you’d understand Jeep getting upset. But what if that CJ knock0ff was never meant to be driven on public roads in the first place? Could Jeep block the manufacturer from selling it here? Soon, the U.S. International Trade Commission will have to rule on that exact dispute.
Bloomberg reports that Fiat Chrysler has filed a trade complaint with the USITC over Indian automaker Mahindra’s plans to import its Roxor side-by-side to the U.S. FCA reportedly claims the Roxor looks too much like a Jeep to be sold here. According to Bloomberg, FCA said the Roxor is “a nearly identical copy of the iconic Jeep design” and that “the accused product was ‘modeled after the original Willys Jeep.'”
FCA also claims the Roxor is a threat to Jeep sales because of its lower price. Mahindra is able to do so by manufacturing the Roxor in India before assembling it in the U.S. Plus, unlike the Wrangler, the Roxor isn’t actually street-legal. Despite its Jeep-like bodywork, it’s a side-by-side like the Polaris RZR or the Can-Am Maverick, so it doesn’t have to meet expensive safety requirements.
Last year, Mahindra opened a new factory in Michigan and announced plans to increase its original $230 million investment to $600 million by 2020. Its U.S. workforce is also expected to grow from 170 to 700 employees in the same timeframe. FCA reportedly believes this amounts to a “demonstrated intention to penetrate the United States market and harm FCA’s goodwill and business.”
Since the complaint was only filed on August 1, it will probably be a while before the USITC issues a ruling, but it will be interesting to see how the case develops. After all, there’s no denying the Roxor sure looks a lot like a Jeep.