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JLR Seeks to Block VW Group's SUV Imports to U.S.

British carmaker says its terrain-sensing powertrain control system was cloned.
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Jaguar Land Rover says SUVs made by Volkswagen Group are illegally using its patented terrain-sensing technology.

Image: JLR

JLR is asking the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) to block imports of certain Audi, Lamborghini, Porsche and VW brand SUV/crossovers it claims are using its system without permission.

The ITC complaint alleges that copies of JLR’s technology are being used in Audi Q5, Q6 and Q7 crossovers, A6 Allroad wagons and e-tron electric models; Lamborghini Urus luxury SUVs; Porsche Cayenne SUVs; and VW Tiguan crossovers, according to Bloomberg News.

The company’s goal is to pressure VW to pay up for its continued use of the technology.

What It Does

Terrain Response adjusts a vehicle’s transmission, suspension and traction settings to maximize driving ability for general conditions, sand, grass/gravel/snow, muddy/rutted ground or rock-crawling.

JLR customers have been able for years to choose those settings manually. The recently upgraded Terrain Response 2 Auto system can sense driving conditions and select the appropriate mode automatically.

Broader Net

The British carmaker also has filed patent lawsuits against the same VW Group brands in federal courts in Delaware and New Jersey, Bloomberg reports. In both cases, the filings specifically demand cash compensation from VW.

Unlike federal courts, the ITC can’t impose financial penalties. But the commission does have the ability to ban imported products, and its decisions generally come faster than those from U.S. courts.

This isn’t the first time JLR has gone to battle over this issue. The company sued VW’s Bentley unit two years ago, claiming the “Drive Dynamics” feature used in the ultra-luxury brand’s Bentayga crossover vehicle is a clone of the Terrain Response system.

That case is scheduled to go to trial in February.

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