It sells more cars in Italy than Alfa Romeo, Mazda or MG and almost as much as Škoda Auto. We are talking about the DR Automobiles group. That you’ve never heard of her? Most likely because outside of Italy you will rarely meet its models, unless you head to China. In fact, these are models of several local car manufacturers. And it is precisely the Chinese origin, or rather its concealment, that is now causing problems for the DR.
“DR Automobiles is an Italian automotive group that debuted among car manufacturers in 2006 (…).” The introduction of DR Automobiles on its official website begins with this sentence. And not only this sentence is causing considerable problems in the eyes of the Italian Competition Authority (AGCM).
According to the authority, the brand gives misleading information to customers in relation to where the DR models, as well as the related brand Evo belonging to the same DR Automobiles group, are manufactured. Simply put, on the website or in advertisements in the media, the car manufacturer refers to its Italian origin – under its logo you can even find the Italian tricolor -, while in reality these are originally Chinese models with only modest external changes and a different logo. Of course, this in itself is not a problem, DR marketing already is.
“In some cases, they even left out the relevant information about their origin, which suggests that they are manufactured completely in Italy, while in fact they are models manufactured in China,” writes the authority in relation to the cars of the DR Automobiles group.
If you take a close look at the Evo models, actually originally products of the Chinese JAC (among other things, a partner of the Russian Moskvich), you will see the logo of the original manufacturer in the front lights. In the advertisements, the cars hide their origin, but in reality they are not so disguised.
The authority then already stated in mid-October that it had carried out an inspection at the headquarters of DR Automobiles in the Molise region. With what result, he has not yet published. What is interesting is that the DR Automobiles group also includes the brands Sportequipe and ICKX, the latter offers rebranded models of the Chinese brand BAIC, but the report of the Italian authorities does not mention them.
According to the Italian Association of the Automotive Industry, the DR group is one of the more popular manufacturers on the local market. From January to September, it sold 24,235 new cars, up 47.6 percent from the same period last year, while also accounting for 2.1 percent of the Italian car market. As was said in the introduction, this is more than for established brands such as Alfa Romeo, Mazda or Mitsubishi, while Škoda Auto sold only about a thousand more cars.
Most models under the DR brand come from Chery production, only the PK8 pick-up truck originates from another Chinese manufacturer, JAC. Instead, he sells his cars in Italy under the Evo brand. In addition to the country from the Apennine Peninsula, models of both brands can also be bought in Spain, France and Bulgaria, but there they do not reach the numbers from Italy.
The news of the opening of an investigation into DR Automobiles over misleading advertising comes at a time when a wave of “discontent” against Chinese brands is beginning to rise in Europe in general. The European Commission wants to investigate the Chinese government’s subsidies to local car manufacturers, which then enable them to sell their models in Europe below the level of local competitors.
In France, they focused on cheap electric cars, for which they do not want to provide generous subsidies, so from next year the amount of the subsidy will be linked to CO2 emissions in the entire production and transport cycle. In other words, electric cars from China with uneconomical production and transport will not reach support.