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Jeep versus Mahindra as sales of Wrangler lookalike blocked

There are plenty of similarities between the Mahindra and an older Wrangler

It's iconic slotted grilles at 20 paces, with Jeep attempting to block Mahindra from selling its Wrangler lookalike in the USA.

Jeep's parent company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has filed a complaint with America's International Trade Commission to block the sale of the Indian brand's Roxor off-roader in the USA, saying it is too similar in design to the brand's iconic Willys Jeep and Wrangler.

According to Bloomberg, the complaint takes particular issue with the Roxor's “boxy body shape with flat-appearing vertical sides and rear body ending at about the same height as the hood.”

The similarities with older Wranglers, like this 2005 model, are even more striking. The similarities with older Wranglers, like this 2005 model, are even more striking.

So how is Mahindra building Jeep lookalikes at all? Well, the history is a little complicated, but Mahindra has actually held the licence to build a Willys-style off-roader since 1947, with this latest Roxor version is based on the brand's equally Wrangler-like Thar.

But FCA had largely worried little, presumably because the off-road-only Roxor (the lack of doors or a roof make registration an issue) was developed primarily for the Indian market. But just to be sure, they demanded Mahindra alter the seven-slot grille to a five-slot number for any cars destined to be imported to the USA.

But with Mahindra now opening a US$600m manufacturing facility in Detroit, the little Roxor has flown too close to Jeep's spiritual home, causing FCA's legal department to step in.

Chief among Jeep's complaints are the design similarities, but the brand has also warned of the significant damage sales might suffer, with Mahindra building its version more cheaply in India, before it is assembled in the USA. FCA says that allows Indian auto giant to cut the price to a level it is simply unable to compete with.

Has Jeep got a point - is the Roxor a little too Wrangler? Tell us in the comments below.