Many were surprised when Mahindra launched the Roxor in the American market. Not a street-legal car there, the Roxor is a ‘side-by-side’ car largely targeted at estates and off-roading resorts and private usage. It has turned out to be a pretty handy tool, gaining popularity which might have triggered Fiat-Chrysler’s concerns.
Mahindra’s association with Jeep goes back more than 50 years when the Indian entrepreneurs licensed the Jeep CJs to build and sell across India. With the Indian economy running behind closed doors till the 90s, the Jeep got deeply encrusted into Mahindra’s DNA with the vertically slatted grille finding its place on almost all the fascia.
Jeep, now owned by the Marchionne-built Fiat-Chrysler empire, has now entered the Indian car market and the decades-old license has begun becoming a matter of contention. While there isn’t much FCA can do in the Indian market owing to the license and legacy, the Roxor’s similarity to the Jeep CJs is tantalising.
The Roxor’s are built from SKD units supplied from India and are assembled in the US. The low-cost, less-electronics and the expendability of the Roxor might eat into the traditional bastions of the Wrangler which has now become fancy and tech-laden and hence expensive.
Lack of road-legality of Roxor might help its case against the street-legal Wrangler and along the historic licensing agreement which was for the Indian market only though. The US International Trade Commission will be hearing the complaint that claims that the Roxor will ‘harm FCA’s goodwill and business’.