HomeCar NewsMahindra Working On "Differently Stylised" Thar For International Markets

Mahindra Working On “Differently Stylised” Thar For International Markets

Mahindra Thar Facelift For International Markets
Mahindra Thar Facelift For Render. Credit – IAB / SRK

Mahindra won’t be lunching Thar in its current format in any international market, due to design trademark issues

While Thar is one of Mahindra’s most popular SUVs in India, its plans to go international have been dashed due to design trademark issues. The first blockade was in the United States in 2020. As per a ruling of United States International Trade Commission, Roxor (US version of Thar) was found to be in violation of Jeep’s design trademark.

The ruling effectively banned the import and sale of Roxor in the US. Later, Mahindra introduced a heavily redesigned version of Roxor. It was initially approved, but faced hurdles again in 2022 when FCA raised new objections. The case is currently ongoing and Mahindra hopes to get a favourable decision.

Thar legal battle in Australia

In Australian market, Mahindra was planning to launch Thar in the same format as it is available in India. However, there too, a legal challenge was raised by Jeep. Having already lost the case in US, it was not surprising to see Thar lose the case in Australia as well. However, Mahindra was still looking at options to bring Thar to the Land Down Under.

In the latest development, Joydeep Moitra, the regional head of Mahindra Automotive has stated that Thar will not be launched in any international market in its current format. The decision makes sense, as FCA and Jeep are likely to challenge Thar anywhere it plans to establish a foothold. In its current format, Thar has a close resemblance to Jeep Wrangler SUV.

2023 Mahindra Thar AX 4x4 Soft Top
2023 Mahindra Thar testing

Options open for a new version of Thar

Speaking about future plans, Moitra said that they are “working on a differently stylised car”. This will have a unique profile and value proposition. It will be exclusively meant for international markets. When ready, this new product will be launched in Australia as well.

As per the court ruling in Australia in 2021, Mahindra will need to get design approval from Jeep. This order is to ensure that there are no further issues related to design trademark violations. To avoid further complications, it makes sense to start from scratch and develop an entirely new product.

Did Mahindra Have License To Copy Jeep Design?

Thar’s origin can be traced back to 1950s, when Mahindra had a license to manufacture an adaptation of the Willys Jeep used by the US Army. The current-gen Thar, as it looks today, is a result of several iterations over the years. Legal challenges have come up because the license was only applicable for the original Jeep and not its future versions. Moreover, the license was meant to be used in India only, and not in international markets.

Mahindra has taken the right decision to pull the plug on plans to sell Thar in its current format in international markets. Legal battles dent brand equity, which is not good for a company looking to become a major global player. While Jeep’s design seems near-perfect and unparalleled, there’s no harm in trying to create something new that can be just as fascinating. An example of that can already be seen with Mahindra’s upcoming born-electric SUVs.


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