Indian automaker Mahindra & Mahindra has responded to a complaint filed with the US International Trade Commission (ITC) by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles regarding the small, Willys Jeep-like Mahindra Roxor. As we reported last week, FCA is looking to have the Roxor barred from sale in the United States due to its obvious design similarities with the earliest civilian Jeep off-road vehicles.
In a statement, Mahindra & Mahindra said that while it has “not yet been served with the complaint,” the company is aware that FCA has filed one with the ITC.
“We have reviewed FCA’s core filing and find it to be without merit,” the company said. “Mahindra has a historic relationship and agreements with FCA and its predecessors that go back seventy years.
“The relationship began in the 1940’s with the original agreement with Willys and continues to this day, with the most recent agreement executed with FCA (then Chrysler Group LLC) in 2009,” Mahindra & Mahindra continued. “Our actions, products, and product distribution (including ROXOR) both honor the legacy of the relationship and the terms of our agreements with FCA. Mahindra has been co-existing with FCA (and the Jeep brand) for over 25 years in India and in many other countries.
“The ROXOR is a derivative of Mahindra vehicles distributed in those markets. Based on these agreements and our history, we believe that FCA’s claims are baseless and Mahindra is well within its rights to both manufacture and distribute the ROXOR off-road vehicle.”
The Mahindra Roxor is a small, diesel-powered off-road vehicle planned for sale in the United States with a starting price of around $15k. Despite its similarities with the original Willys-Overland CJ-2A, the Roxor is more “all-terrain vehicle” than “off-road-oriented SUV” due to its meager 62 horsepower and 45-mph top speed, not to mention its diminutive size; it measures just 12 feet and 4 inches in length.
What the Mahindra Roxor lacks in size and virility, it makes up for with its off-roading bona fides. A five-speed manual transmission feeds all its 144 lb-ft of torque to all four wheels through a two-speed Dana transfer case, and the Roxor boasts a maximum tow rating of 3,490 pounds. The default wheels are 16-inch steel pieces, although 16-inch alloys are available as an option.
Mahindra & Mahindra plans to carry out most of the Roxor’s production in India, shipping knocked-down kits to its Southeast Michigan facility for final assembly. That allows the tiny off-roader to carry a similarly small price tag, and that appears to have FCA nervous; in its complaint filed with the ITC, FCA said that the Mahindra Roxor threatens to undersell its own Jeep-branded vehicles.