A federal judge on Thursday denied DaimlerChrysler AG's bid to force General Motors Corp. to make last-minute changes to the Hummer H2 sport utility vehicle, rejecting Chrysler's claim that the H2's grille too closely resembles those on its Jeeps.
Chrysler said it had not decided whether to appeal the ruling, but would continue to pursue its case at a trial scheduled for December.
It had asked for a preliminary injunction saying the H2, scheduled to go on sale in the United States this summer, copies the grille design of its four Jeep models. The Hummer grille features seven vertical slots. Jeep grilles also have seven vertical slots.
The four-wheel-drive H2 is the first new vehicle from Hummer since GM acquired the brand name in 1999. It is part of an ambitious growth plan GM has laid out for high-profit SUVs. Hummer currently builds the H1, a low-volume civilian model of the Humvee military vehicle that captured the public's eye during the Gulf War in 1991.
GM had filed its own lawsuit against Chrysler, charging that the automaker waived any claims it had on the grille by remaining silent in the years since the first Hummer H1 went into production in 1992.
With the H2, expected to be priced at around $50,000, GM brings the Hummer brand closer to Jeep territory. A future H3 is expected to be priced at around $30,000, posing a direct challenge to Jeep.
GM expects eventually to sell 35,000 to 40,000 Hummer H2s a year, compared with Hummer H1 annual sales of around 1,000. GM spokesman Alan Adler said the H2 would hit showrooms as planned.
"We're gratified that the court has not stopped us from using our grille," he said.
DaimlerChrysler Corporation is reviewing the court's decision today denying a preliminary injunction to stop General Motors' use of the Hummer H2 grille design, which is similar to the grilles used on Jeep® vehicles.
DaimlerChrysler looks forward to presenting its complete case at the December hearing when a full trial will be held. The company will continue to protect the design of its Jeep grille which has been a famous and unique identifier of the Jeep brand for more than 55 years.
The company has not yet determined whether it is appropriate to file an appeal.
More as it comes...