The $16k Jeep Returns!

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Affordable Jeeps are coming back!

Just not from Jeep . . .

Mahindra, the manufacturer of the Roxor – which looks (and is) a lot like the Jeeps you used to be able to buy for about half the cost of the Jeeps Uncle forces you to buy today – is apparently going to resume manufacturing them this coming year.

Earlier this year, Mahindra was forced by court order to stop selling Roxors in the U.S. on account of trademark infringement. FiatChrysler – which owns the Jeep brand – argued that Roxors were essentially knock-offs of the classic CJs Jeep hasn’t sold since the 1980s.

Today, Jeep sells the Wrangler  . . . which has a base price of $28,295.

A Roxor stickers for about $16,000  . . . precisely because it is a knock-off the old CJs Jeep hasn’t made since the 1980s.
Mahindra’s North American CEO, Rick Haas admitted as much, openly. “Everyone understand that our vehicle is a CJ,” he said.

By which he was saying that the Roxor is what a Jeep used to be.

Which isn’t so much a trademark problem as it is another kind of problem.

The Roxor is affordable, because it is simple – which modern Jeeps like the Wrangler aren’t.

It has no air bags. It is not designed to pass current federal bumper impact, rollover or other such “standards.” It has not got a direct-injected, computer-controlled engine with variable valve/cam timing, cylinder deactivation and Automatic Stop/Start (ASS).

It does have a mechanically injected 2.5 liter diesel engine that doesn’t even need a battery to start it – if you roll the thing down a hill and let out the clutch – that’s capable of averaging 50 MPG. That’s about twice the average you’ll get out of a new Wrangler.

Also manual locking hubs, Low range gearing and everything you need to go off-roading.

Without all the rest of it.

Which is why it is affordable – like Jeep CJs used to be.

The current Wrangler isn’t affordable – because it has all the rest. In part because Jeep obediently builds it to be “compliant” with all the things federal bureaucrats say a new vehicle must comply with, including some things that only a busybody could claim are anyone’s business except the buyer’s – such as how much damage the vehicle can withstand in the event of a crash. Italicized to make the point that this has nothing to do with whether a vehicle is likely to crash.

Such edicts are the vehicular equivalent of government busybodies issuing fatwas decreeing how many calories you’re allowed per day.

We can still choose to eat bacon cheeseburgers rather than soy patties – though probably not for long.

But federal fatwas are only part of the reason for the Wrangler being almost as expensive to buy – and insure – as an entry-level BMW.

The Wrangler is more expensive than it has to be – due to compliance costs – because Jeep won’t sell you one without AC or power windows or a touchscreen and other such things it isn’t forced-by-fatwa to install but has made standard  . . .

Because it makes Jeep more money.

Because you can’t skip what-used-to-extras like AC, power windows and so on.

All the car companies do this now – which they can do because of financing schemes that make it possible for buyers to spend more than most of them can afford. An almost $30k-to-start Wrangler represents an expenditure equivalent to about half the average American’s annual family income – and for that reason is unaffordable on the face of it – but it’s made to appear “affordable” via the six (and seven) year loan. Which has made it impossible for people who’d like to live within their means – or even below them – to find even a relatively simple new vehicle  – one that is “compliant” with the various federal fatwas – but doesn’t cost almost-$30k-to-start because of all the standard features.

Plus tax – as Elvis used to say.

It’s a form of regulatory capture – making it too expensive for a newcomer to compete by making regulatory compliance costs too high – without the regulations. But with the low-low financing. Which people sign up for because what choice have they got?

Which is why the $16k Roxor is such a threat to the established order of things.

The trademark infringement case wasn’t really brought because Mahindra was trading off the Jeep name but because the Jeep name no longer means what it used to – and because Roxor was reminding people of that.

The Roxor does not compete directly with the Wrangler. It offers an alternative to it. A simpler, much more affordable alternative that doesn’t require signing up for a six-or-seven-year debt indenture and which also thumbs-in-the-eye this business of government busybodies forcing people to finance what they could otherwise not afford.

If Jeep still built Jeeps – affordable and simple vehicles without all the cost-padding standards – the Roxor would be irrelevant. People would buy the real thing, not the copy of it. But it’s Roxor that makes the real thing now – and that’s the real problem.

For Jeep.

For all the major players.

. . . .

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43 COMMENTS

  1. The irony is that some basic features that USED to be STANDARD (one of them of course being the…STANDARD transmission) are now EXTRA. Another basic option I would LOVE to have is a hand crank starter, in case if the battery or the starter decides to “kick the bucket”. I think some older jap cars from the 60’s and 70’s used to have this feature.

    Anyways, it’s like I always say: simplicity is the new luxury.

    • So true, Bluegrey! My first tractor, a ’49 Ferguson (I bought it c.’01) had a provision for hand-cranking. It had a little access port under the radiator into which you could insert the crank…..unfortunately, I didn’t have the crank, but wish I had on several occasions, like when the starter took a crap!

        • Hehe…I was actually thinking of you re the crank-starting! Might need to round up a few bystanders for that beast.

          \Funny, one of my earliest automotive memories was when I was a wee lad, watching some hippies push a small-window VW bus down the road to pop the clutch. I thought it was so cool when the injun roaredticked to life!

  2. Jeep CJs were not cheap back in the day. My wife wanted one in 1980, and we bought a new, 1980 CJ-5. It was the bottom of the line, 4-cylinder manual, soft top only, power steering and brakes but nothing else. Note the soft top in those days did not include hard doors. They were cloth over a heavy wire frame with a zippered window. It cost $10,500 in 1980. I was gobsmacked by the cost. A couple of months later I bought my first new car, which was a nicely optioned 1980 Trans-AM. The out the door (taxes, etc) price for it was $8277 (it was my first new car – you tend to remember these things). Seemed like a hell of a lot more vehicle for the money than the Jeep. Using the Consumer Price Index information from this site (https://www.usinflationcalculator.com/inflation/consumer-price-index-and-annual-percent-changes-from-1913-to-2008/), today’s price would be $32,500, which is about what the MSRP of a 2021 2-Door Wrangler Sport is. The Sport is the first option level above base, and has equipment that would have been considered exotic in 1980. Given 2020 manufacturing efficiencies, the price on the Mahindra seems a bit high to me.

  3. I coulda swore something like this: There was a website that for a fee, you could get Utah MOTORCYCLE plates for the Roxor. Maybe a Google search would yield the result, but hey, you never know about Google these days.

  4. I’d get one tomorrow but Florida won’t let me off a road with a speed limit more than 35mph in a Roxor. It’s a shame because it’s really in a class by itself and could easily and safely be driven on roads with 55 mph speed limits.

    • Hi Zach,

      In re: “It’s a shame because it’s really in a class by itself and could easily and safely be driven on roads with 55 mph speed limits.”

      Yup. I’ve driven old LandCruisers, Willys/CJs and such. If you could drive one of those on the highway, you can drive a Roxor on the highway. Heck, the ’74 Beetle I drove back in the ’90s was highway-viable, even though its top speed was only about 90 MPH, all out.

  5. Rust isn’t really that much of a concern, you can buy brand new chassis, tuba, fenders, etc. I looked under the hood of a Roxy, I was not impressed to find an electronic diesel. I’m thinking a soon project will be a flat fender willys with a Escort/Mazda RF diesel.

  6. Not road legal though, right? However, with a little creativity, probably wouldn’t be too hard to find a way around that. Average cop isn’t gonna know the difference between this and say, a “real” 1982 Jeep.

    • oh, a cop will know. The authorities will get some federal grant for a training and detection program for vehicle falsification prevention. Who knows what kind of screwed up acronym will be invented for the program. There will be overtime provisions in the program which is fed subsidizing local pig salaries. You get the idea.

      There will be busts, media campaigns complete with guilt tripping the people who do this and encouraging their neighbors to scorn them. Then there will be the DMV registration fraud charges. Shall i go on?

      Some, not all of course, Libertarians make a fundamental mistake. They disagree with some law or rule and feel justified in circumventing it. However, this places them in the position of no longer having an immediate reason to delete the law or rule and restore sanity to our regulatory structures. There are arguments of exigence in certain circumstances of course. The problem is that this has created very profitable underground economies and effectively forces others to participate to compete and survive. A common example in my community is the hiring of illegal aliens by most trade and service businesses. No doubt the cost of hiring would place most of these businesses in the impossible venture category. However, the honest and law abiding businessman faces a choice. He can go over to the dark side or cease to exist. The worst problem is that if this same honest businessman wants to change the laws to make employing people more possible, he has no allies as the law breakers like things just as they are.

      It is a complex issue and there are no easy answers.

      • It amazes me how illegals are not illegal to the only entity that matters, the gov’t. Among many other much more controversial things, they acquire gov’t issued drivers licenses, registrations, etc. with no problem. Simply requiring poof of citizenship would stop that immediately. But they don’t. There are a lot of reasons. Some electoral but it isn’t clear that they are a voting monolith. Ultimately, I see it as another pressure valve, like Chinese slave manufacturing, that keeps the true price of wages for services, like manufacturing, food processing, and construction, down so as to hide and blunt inflation for the time being.

        • Simply requiring their employers to verify legal work status should matter to the government. The employer cost savings in terms of unemployment contributions, workman’s compensation premiums, employer tax withholding and minimum wage are astonishing. Yes, these things are perhaps an overreach in terms of free individuals contracting to do business with each other, however you owe the government as little as five thousand dollars one year and they will hunt you to the Amazon River Basin to get it. Meanwhile employers breaking the law put six-figure savings into their pockets instead of protesting the conditions that make doing business so hard. They would be more interested in the debate over inflation if they felt it as keenly as their customers do.

          • RE and construction are powerful constituencies in most US communities. The creators of inflation know some benefit while most are harmed. Andrew Dickson White, in his famous book “The Fiat Money Inflation in France” written in 1912 spoke about the stock jobbers and other asset inflation beneficiaries who benefited during this period of inflation in France. I can’t help but think we are witnessing similar trends.

          • Hi Chris,

            The libertarian answer to the problem – created by government – of “undocumented” workers is to eliminate entitlements. If people can’t avail themselves of “free” (to them) services such as “free” government schools and “free” healthcare and so on and must -like most of us – work to obtain and pay for such things, then there is no problem.

            My buddy the roofer has a crew of illegals working for him. They are hard-working guys and I have no problemo with them, as such. The problemo I do have is that I am easily mulcted – via property taxes – to “help” finance the additional school space and teachers their kids need and which they don’t pay for since they don’t pay property taxes, as they do not own property and are “off the books.”

            • Thanks Eric,

              We are in complete agreement as to a solution and overall necessity. The welfare state and much of the collective benefits like schooling must be abolished. If an illegal cannot walk into a hospital and get free healthcare for a job related injury in the absence of his employer providing workman’s comp, it ends. Additionally, many of these workers get housing and other life subsidies furthering this unbalanced situation making their existence here feasible.
              However, these subsidies also support your roofer friend who is not going to work on my roof or for any one else for free. In essence we legitimate people are subsidizing him. We are his slaves, and he has no reason to free us.
              Those of us who lean more conservative do have an option which is to shun him in many ways which many of us do.
              However, it still sucks and there is little being done to change it except productive and smart people dropping out, not good.
              Thanks for taking the time and for your excellent work and mission.

              • You have two families: “Joe Legal” and “Jose Illegal”. Both families have two parents, two children, and live in California .
                Joe Legal works in construction, has a Social Security Number and makes $25.00 per hour with taxes deducted.
                Jose Illegal also works in construction, has NO Social Security Number, and gets paid $15.00 cash “under the table”.
                Ready? Now pay attention. . ..
                Joe Legal: $25.00 per hour x 40 hours = $1000.00 per week, or $52,000.00 per year. Now take 30% away for state and federal tax;
                Joe Legal now has $31,231.00.
                Jose Illegal: $15.00 per hour x 40 hours = $600.00 per week, or $31,200.0 0 per year. Jose Illegal pays no taxes.
                Jose Illegal now has $31,200.00.
                Joe Legal pays medical and dental insurance with limited coverage for his family at $600.00 per month, or $7,200.00 per year.
                Joe Legal now has $24,031.00.
                Jose Illegal has full medical and dental coverage through the state and local clinics and emergency hospitals at a cost of $0.00 per year.
                Jose Illegal still has $31,200.00.
                Joe Legal makes too much money and is not eligible for food stamps or welfare. Joe Legal pays $500.00 per month for food,
                or $6,000.00 per year.
                Joe Legal now has $18,031.00.
                Jose Illegal has no documented income and is eligible for food stamps, WIC and welfare.
                Jose Illegal still has $31,200.00.
                Joe Legal pays rent of $1,200.00 per month, or $14,400.00 per year. Joe Legal now has 9,631 .00.
                Jose Illegal receives a $500.00 per month Federal Rent Subsidy. Jose Illegal pays out that $500.00 per month, or $6,000.00 per year.
                Jose Illegal still has $ 31,200.00.
                Joe Legal pays $200.00 per month, or $2,400.00 for car insurance. Some of that is uninsured motorist insurance.
                Joe Legal now has $7,231.00.
                Jose Illegal says, “We don’t need no stinkin’ insurance!” and still has $31,200.00.
                Joe Legal has to make his $7,231.00 stretch to pay utilities, gasoline, etc..
                Jose Illegal has to make his $31,200.00 stretch to pay utilities, gasoline, and what he sends out of the country every month..
                Joe Legal now works overtime on Saturdays or gets a part time job after work.
                Jose Illegal has nights and weekends off to enjoy with his family.
                Joe Legal’s and Jose Illegal’s children both attend the same elementary school. Joe Legal pays for his children’s lunches, while Jose Illegal’s children get a government sponsored lunch. Jose Illegal’s children have an after school ESL program. Joe Legal’s children go home.
                Now, when they reach college age, Joe Legal’s kids may not get into a State School and may not qualify for scholarships, grants or other tuition help, even though Joe has been paying for State Schools through his taxes, while Jose Illegal’s kids “go to the head of the class” because they are a minority.
                Joe Legal and Jose Illegal both enjoy the same police and fire services, but Joe paid for them and Jose did not pay.
                Do you get it, now?
                If you vote for or support any politician that supports illegal aliens. . . You are part of the problem!
                We need to keep this going–we need to make changes ASAP!
                It’s way PAST time to take a stand for America and Americans!

                • **” Both families have two parents, two children, and live in California .”**

                  I don’t think those two families live in CA. anymore…… Heard there were two like that in Iowa- not sure if it’s true.

                • Unfortunately it’s so far past time that the best thing we can do is get on the system and ride it until it breaks. Stop being a sucker and ditch your principles.

                  I personally have never been able to do it, but after losing a big chunk of my life savings this year due to government, at age 56 after 45 years of paying hundreds of thousands into the scam, I’m getting pretty damned close. I’ve been robbed and “they” owe me!

        • My Dudes,
          Slave plantations without slaves are worthless. The birthrate in the prosperous Western nations has fallen drastically, to way below replacement level. They’ve tried remedying this by such things as subsidizing the lowest classes to make babies via entitlement programs…but it still isn’t enough to make up for the drastic decline in birfsrate- plus the subsidized people’s babies don’t make good slaves, as they are of the lowest genetic quality- Soooooo they are now importing “replacements” from cultures which make lots of babies, and which have never known any semblance of prosperity, so that their progeny will grow up to be good little slaves in the system and make more babies who will do the same, for at least a few generations.

          Don’t believe the “depopulation agenda”- it is controlled disinformation to distract from the real agenda. (Although it no doubt exists to some degree among certain populations whom the elites have no use for– who do not make for good slave fodder).

          • I think you are on to something here but don’t discount the inflation angle. It’s the source of “their” power. The “China price” is something the empire has lived on for 30+ years now, irrespective of OM’s blather. Some things, like construction or meat processing can’t be done by slaves overseas. So they’re done by not quite citizens here. Some benefit. Most don’t. Same as it ever was.

      • I completely agree that there are no easy answers, because armed thugs will immediately attack anyone who even remotely suggests they don’t or won’t comply.
        There is however nothing resembling complexity. Governments, being the perfect environment for them, are saturated with psychopaths. Simple. Not only do they not consider our welfare when enacting their insane dictates, there mental disorder PREVENTS them from doing so. They do not have any normal human virtues such as sympathy, empathy, conscience, remorse, guilt, charity, etc. They are only capable of action that benefits themselves, however many lies they must tell to facilitate that action. The only time your welfare comes into play is when it accidentally coincides with theirs.

        • Hi JWK,

          I always appreciate your insistence on pointing out government for what it is, not what it claims to be. This is very hard for most people to understand or accept. To them, government is just another institution, made up of people more or less like other people. But this is false, government is a unique institution, the only one where its’ members are legally allowed to use force to get what they want. Broadly speaking there is the coercive sector (government) and the voluntary sector (private). Now, people in the private sector can, and do, use force to get what they want, but they do not have the legal right to do so. This is the key distinction between the coercive sector and the voluntary sector; it is a difference in kind, not degree.

          Those who live in the coercive sector live in a different world than we do, quite literally. They are subject to an entirely different set of incentives, what would likely harm us (dishonesty, ruthlessness, high time preference, etc…), helps them. Likewise, the incentives inherent to the coercive sector reward dramatic, reckless action and punishes thoughtful consideration. The current Covid hysteria exemplifies this point. Once it got started, every politician and bureaucrat knew, maybe instinctively, that the only way they could be harmed was to do “nothing”. In the event that Covid turned out to be genuinely catastrophic, such people would be crucified. But, if they overreact, always double down, and things turn out less awful than predicted, they can, and will, say, “without our bold action, it would have been much worse”.

          Finally, unlike in the voluntary sector, there is no incentive to correct obvious and harmful mistakes in the coercive sector. Government actors don’t admit they are/were wrong because doing so reflects negatively on the legitimacy of government. Also, entrenched interest groups quickly form around a given policy that profit from the policy, whether it’s right or not.

          Because of this in kind distinction between the coercive and voluntary sector, each attracts a different kind of person. The first attracts psychopaths, and rewards them; the second, at least in the long run, excludes and punishes them.

          Kind Regards,
          Jeremy

        • A perfect assessment of the reality, JWK!

          THEY are the true zombies. Machines occupying human bodies…but worse, because machines only do as much as they are programmed to, whereas these zombies, though relieved of any true humanity, still possess their own evil tendencies which allowed them to become inhuman zombies- such as their sadistic tendencies, lust for power, desire for undeserved ‘respect’ and admiration, which they could not acquire via their own merits.

    • Exactly.

      Many states (especially southern tier, warm weather states) license ATVs, UTVs and ROVs (Recreational Off-highway Vehicles) for street use, with varying restrictions. In Arizona you can drive an on-highway registered, insured OHV (Off-Highway Vehicle) anywhere. But OHV is defined as under 1,800 lbs, disqualifying the 3,000 lb Roxor.

      But one of those handy magnetic license plate frames that dealers use for test drives probably would leave one unmolested in a Roxor, whether the license plate actually belongs to the Roxor or not. *wink* Of course, it would help to live in a state that doesn’t require an inspection sticker.

      • In a rural state I visit a lot, they allow ATV/UTV’s on the roads with a very inexpensive ‘special use’ registration. Not sure if they have to have liability insurance or not. The only restriction I am aware of is, ‘only on roads posted 45mph or less’. And in very rural areas, I highly doubt cops would ticket them if they were on a 50mph road.

      • Holy crap 3000 lbs? I had to check that, it’s around 3050 curb weight. A 82 CJ5 with a 304 v8 is only about 2650 lbs, older ones are closer to 2000. How the heck did they make em so chunky?

        • I’m guessing part of the weight has to do with the diesel engine. They’re usually beefier than their gasoline counterparts due to the higher compression ratio.

    • You can buy a kit which contains things like turn signals, etc. to make them road legal in some states (such as FL !!)…but you can’t use ’em on all roads, ’cause their top speed is about 45MPH (I think they’re limited to roads with speed limits of 35 or less). (Got a friend in FL who has one).

      • Remove or disable the governor. You should be able to get a higher top speed. As to “legality” in the united States, at least in the State of Michigan, I was able to legally license and insure a military M-151 jeep without any difficulty. The title description was “assembled vehicle”. Drove it for years until finally selling it.

    • As I recall the parts on these are very compatible with the old jeeps. That said it’s probably is easier and cheaper to simply restore a 1982 Jeep than create some hybrid that retained the legal identity of the ’82.

      • Yeah, these Roxors are classified as side-by-sides or ATVs/UTVs, and ya can’t get a regular vehicle title for ’em, thus no regular registration/plate (‘cept in states where ATV’s/UTVs are legasl for street use), and thus no liability insurance, etc. etc.

        • Morning, Nunz!

          This can be worked around in the same way one could “wash” a Mexican Beetle for on-road use in the U.S. Step one is to buy the carcass of an old U.S.-spec Beetle; a parts car – with a title. Then register the parts car. Put registration in the Mexican Beetle’s glovebox and transfer the VIN plate. Since the two look very much alike it’s doubtful anyone would know without a thorough examination and – assuming the car is for you (i.e., you aren’t selling it) that’s not likely to occur and there’s nothing morally shady about it. It’s your car, after all – so who cares what the numbers on the VIN plate say?

          I think the same could be applied to this Roxor. Buy the carcass of an old CJ/Willys…

          • Exactly what I was suggesting. Nobody gonna know the difference between this Roxor and an old CJ. As long as you don’t try to sell it, you should be good, especially if you’re in a state like FL where there are no annual inspections.

          • Hey Ya Eric!
            Meh…not worth it, that-a way. Plus, you get caught with a transplanted VIN plate….it’s worse than if ya murdered someone, far as Uncle’s concerned. ‘Ccording to my friend with one, even if you can tweak ’em to go faster, they’re really not well-suited to driving at highway speeds…and this, coming from the guy who went down the road with this:
            https://i.imgur.com/ZXBckIy.jpg

            Hey…they’re street legal in Belize and many other places!

          • Unfortunately around here even rusted, non running, incomplete junk has asking prices of $4k+.

            The pre-2000 market prices have gone nuts. I think people are starting to realize that post-2000 stuff is too complex and delicate.

            My mid 90s POS (2003 purchase) has 190k miles on it and is finally starting to crap out. My buddy has been through three, bought new, trucks, 2002, 2008 and 2014 in the time I have owned the POS. Each one had major and extremely expensive repairs coming so he traded them in before failure. None of them made it to 75k miles before he felt he had to get rid of them. These were not abused, they just had engine and transmission issues that made repair similar or equal in cost to just trading them in for something newer.

            At least I can throw $3k at the POS and it will probably go another 100k miles, because it is simple. The new stuff, that $3k would not replace a major component and even if it did, something else complex and expensive will die in short order, at least from reports of new stuff owners I know.

      • Hi Brent,

        I agree,it’d be easier to restore an old CJ… if you could fine one not eaten alive by rust! The ones that haven’t been have risen in value to preposterous heights. I see them for sale for what you’d pay to get a new, loaded, Wrangler Rubicon. Same – and worse – applies to old Broncos, LandCruisers and so on…

        • eric, don’t know what state they were in but there was a way to register a 4X4 and I saw one driving on the street. A cop stopped it and looked at it’s paperwork and continued on. The country was really flat and desert looking. I suspect Az or NV.

          • Probably AZ- ya can register and ride ATVs on the street there. (Hmmm, can’t imagine an AZ Federalized cop just letting anyone go on their merry way without a serious mulcting/beating/ass-raping….

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