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 yearon-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.