Jeep's parent company, Fiat Chrysler Automotive (FCA), has 0nce again dragged Mahindra to court, this time in Australia. This comes after Mahindra released a teaser advertisement of the second-gen Thar in Australia, hinting at its launch in the Australian market. The dispute is once again over the design of the Mahindra Thar, FCA alleging that the Thar infringes the design of their own Jeep Wrangler. FCA has even demanded that Mahindra should not launch the Thar in Australia, and it they really intend to do so, they must provide a 90-day notice.
Both companies have moved the Federal Court of Australia following this. The controversary actually goes back a few months when Mahindra launched its website in Australia to accept registrations from prospective buyers. This was followed by a spy shot of a Thar test mule being tested in Australia, which led to speculations that Mahindra was prepping to launch the Thar in that market. However, Mahindra have confirmed that they currently have no plans of launching the Thar in any new market and have also taken down the teaser from its Australian website.
A Mahindra spokesperson has clarified the situation to TOI saying,
“We have filed our reply in the proceeding commenced by FCA against us. There are no plans to launch the current model of the Thar in Australia. We would provide adequate notice to FCA, as is requested if we were to launch any future model of the Thar in Australia. The Court has listed the case to be heard on May 20, 2021. We have no immediate plans for the all-new Thar to be launched in other markets outside India given the strong demand that we are seeing in India.”
It must be noted that this is not the first time that Mahindra and FCA have been involved in a legal battle. Earlier in 2020, FCA moved the court in USA demanding a ban on the sale of the Mahindra Roxor in America. The Mahindra Roxor is a bare-bones off-roader based on the first-generation Thar that's sold as a farming and all-terrain vehicle in USA. FCA claimed that even the Roxor had a design resemblance with the iconic Jeep/Willys CJ series. The court, however, ruled in favor of Mahindra and the Indian automaker was allowed to sell the Roxor in USA, albeit with some changes to the design.
That said, Mahindra continues to deal with the problem of long waiting period for the Thar in India, extending up to 11 months in certain cities. Given the Thar's capabilities and the everyday practicality that the second-gen model has brought with it, its no surprise that the lifestyle SUV has become such a phenomenon in the domestic market. The Thar is currently available with two engine options - a 150PS 2.0-litre turbo-petrol and 130PS 2.2-litre diesel engines, both paired with 6-speed manual and automatic transmissions. Prices for the Thar currently range from INR 12.11 lakh to INR 14.16 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi).