The dispute between Georgia-based independent automaker Avanti Motor Corp. and the General Motors Corp. over the design of Avanti’s newest addition to the market, its Studebaker XUV, has been settled amicably and out of court.
“We’re glad that this could be resolved in this manner, and we’re excited that the production of XUV — and the comeback of the Studebaker name — will continue as planned,” said Michael E. Kelly, Chairman of Avanti Motor Corp. “I’m sure our customers are excited as well.”
The story began when Avanti’s Studebaker XUV (for “Xtreme Utility Vehicle”), the company’s first foray into the Sport Utility market, was unveiled at the Chicago Auto Show last February. A day after the XUV was introduced, GM took legal action, stating that the vehicle looked too similar to the popular Hummer H2 and would confuse the car-buying public.
The Detroit automaker then sought to have Avanti remove the XUV from the event, but Auto Show officials refused, leading GM to the courts for injunctions to not only keep Avanti from displaying the XUV at the Chicago show, but to stop Avanti from displaying it at any auto show. They were twice denied action, and a June court date was set for GM’s subsequent lawsuit to block Avanti’s manufacture of the Studebaker XUV altogether.
The recent settlement between the two auto builders will result in some minor alterations to the XUV’s design, “while others are changes we’ve made ourselves while tweaking the plans in the last few months,” said Kelly. Among the changes are a larger slant to the windshield and A-pillar, the removal of hood latches and vents, the addition of vent windows in the rear side doors, larger side windows, and a smaller luggage rack (a larger version will be available as a dealer option). The rear tailgate will open from the bottom, and the rear window will roll down into the tailgate.
Construction on the vehicle is scheduled to begin this fall, with first deliveries near year’s end.
The XUV, offered with a five-speed transmission, measures 80 inches wide, 79.6 inches tall and 215.5 inches long, with a 134-inch wheelbase and a curb weight of 6,035 lbs. Buyers may choose either a 325-horsepower, 6.0-liter turbo-diesel V8 or a 310-hp, 6.8-liter V10 which may be equipped with an optional supercharger, raising the engine rating to 425 hp.
Standard features include tow hooks, cab lights, roof cargo tie-downs, an in-dash CD changer and a stainless steel exhaust system — as well as a sliding rear roof and doors and power-sliding side doors. Among the many available options are a GPS navigation system, a DVD player and TV, moonroof, brush guard, roof rack, heated seats, step bars, a winch mounted on the front bumper and a rear center-mounted TV camera for better safety when backing up. The price of the XUV starts at approximately $75,000, and the vehicle is expected in showrooms by year’s end.
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