Currently reading: Italian firm DR set to become major European player
Rapidly growing brand now has a portfolio of 17 models with facilities recently equipped to build EVs

Little-known Italian firm DR looks set to rapidly become a major mainstream player in Europe, having outsold MG, Alfa Romeo, Mini, Cupra, Tesla and Volvo in its home market last year.

DR broke into Italy’s top 20 brands in 2023 when it sold 32,650 new cars for a market share of 2.1%, which represents year-on-year growth of 34%.

That followed a 2022 in which it grew by a remarkable 193%, emboldening it to expand abroad into Bulgaria, France and Spain. DR was founded in the Molise region in 2006 by former Fiat dealer Massimo Di Risio (hence the name) with the objective of capitalising on the growing production of cheap cars in China.

It initially rebadged Chery cars for the local market and has since also formed relationships with JAC and BAIC. This growing spread of source material has enabled DR to launch three sibling brands over the past three years: Evo at the entry level, Sportequipe above DR itself and Ickx at the top.

At the lower end, the focus is on affordability – a quality of which Italian car buyers are famously fond. Across the four brands, there are now 17 models, from a small hatchback to crossovers and SUVs, an off-roader and a pick-up truck, variously offering petrol, LPG dual-fuel, plug-in hybrid and battery-electric powertrains.

DR also owns the rights to Osca, a sports car brand created by the Maserati brothers in 1947 for motorsport purposes, and is working on a relaunch programme.

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The company last year expanded its production facilities to include four assembly lines for an annual capacity of more than 50,000 cars, added the capability to produce electric cars, upgraded its R&D and design centres and built a new spare parts warehouse.

Questions hang over exactly what work occurs at Macchia d’Isernia, however. In October last year, Italy’s competition watchdog launched an antitrust probe into DR, stating: “In some cases, [the company] omits relevant information on [its cars’] origin, suggesting that they’re entirely produced in Italy, while they seem to be of Chinese production.”

Another complication could be Chery itself beginning sales of its cars in Europe under the Omoda and Jaecoo brands.

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scrap 5 February 2024

The EU needs to get a grip before China destroys the European car industry.

Backwater UK needs to follow closely and adopt similar measures. In previous times the UK could lead the charge here, but sadly those days are gone.

tuga 5 February 2024
Clickbaiting at it's worst.

Do better Autocar.

ianp55 5 February 2024

Is DR an importer of Chinese built cars or has it ambitions to become a nanufacturer? it'd be interested to see what is actually done in the company's facility are the cars being built from kits or just having the DR badges applied? it'll be interesting to see how this pans out 

giulivo 5 February 2024
They initially used to assemble Chinese cars from CKD kits and sell them through hypermarkets, now they only do minor rebadging, homologation etc. of cars which they import fully built, and sell them through a dealer network which is expanding beyond Italy. Some of the cars don't seem so bad. There is a well known problem with sourcing spare parts when things go wrong.
DR Group and Renault-Dacia are also market leaders in LPG cars, which are interesting to people who do a lot of miles now that Diesel is out of favour.
The flagship model of the Sportequipe "premium" sub-brand will soon be available as a LPG-PHEV, the first of its kind.