Uh oh! All signs indicate that Carlos Ghosn is furious today. Another key executive is gone just 10 months after the wacky Carlos Tavares was booted from Renault.
Former Audi and Infiniti executive Johan De Nysschen has just been announced as the new Cadillac global leader. This is an unusually sudden departure from Renault-Nissan - and an odd hire for Cadillac as well.
It is not yet clear if De Nysschen was terminated or recruited away from Infiniti, but his efforts there have been a nightmare overall.
Cadillac's global ambitions are well-known, and this appointment may help inject some hip product strategy and marketing to the brand.
Despite the strong product line with the CTS and ATS, Cadillac sales are not where they need to be in 2014. This is a big problem, and obviously one for which an outside hire is deemed best to address. The ATS Coupe, as this editor said last week in boldface, is Boring.
Even so, the sudden mid-strategy departure of its leader is a slap in the face for Infiniti - who De Nysschen totally upended with a corporate HQ relocation to Hong Kong as well as the naming strategy that tossed out Infiniti's 25-year legacy of unique letter and number badges.
De Nysschen's time at Infiniti was successful in launching the new Q50 with a very driver-focused appeal -- but in most counts Infiniti is flagging badly. Sales are up globally so far in 2014, but this is a false statistic - as the company also entered dozens of new markets where it was not active before. The geographic expansion masks sales at Infiniti USA which are
down nearly 30-percent over the last two years basically flat.
2014 YTD *
Infiniti USA's woes are in stark contrast to the growing market overall, and huge gains by all three German luxury brands in the same time period. Infiniti in Europe will be a loss-maker for at least the next decade, so USA sales performance being unbelievably poor is not sustainable.
The name change alone is estimated to have cost Infiniti more than $800 million globally. Just for new badges and marketing collateral. At the same time, no buyers are eager to purschase a discontinued nameplate. This effectively created a $5,000 forced rebate -- absorbed wholly by Infiniti's furious dealerships.
De Nysschen has a big challenge ahead of him - bringing a German in to run things is bound to take time for both the company culture and De Nysschen himself to adapt. This is time Cadillac does not really have to lose.
So a grab-bag of hits and missed for De Nysschen in his past life as an Audi all-star, then nearly running Infiniti into the ground.
While a grim assessment, if De Nysschen was not happy doing anything he wanted at Infiniti --- there is almost zero chance he will thrive at Cadillac and in General Motors.
But the performance floor at GM divisions is pretty low. Especially since Joel Ewanick shit the bed as General Motors Global CMO between
2012 2011 and epic-fail 2013 2012. Manchester United Chevy jerseys are hitting the field now - just as Chevrolet closes completely in Europe. Oops.
Worth noting is that Ewanick's departure from GM effectively ended his career.
We wish Cadillac well. Overall, Europe is overrated. Why not focus on a good market. Like the United States. Or China. That would be our advice to Herr de Nysschen.
Official Details from Cadillac below.
CADILLAC NAMES JOHAN DE NYSSCHEN PRESIDENT
Cadillac to operate as global brand, more distinct business unit
DETROIT – General Motors today announced the appointment of Johan de Nysschen as President – Cadillac. de Nysschen will be responsible for all aspects of Cadillac globally including sales, pricing and network development, strategic brand development and marketing and product portfolio planning, including critical input for product engineering and design.
de Nysschen, 54, joins the GM executive leadership team as an executive vice president of the company beginning September 1 and reports to GM President Dan Ammann.
“Johan brings to our company vast experience in the development and proper execution of luxury automotive brands,” said Ammann. “With over 20 years in this exact space, especially in the development of the Audi brand, his track record proves he is the perfect executive to lead Cadillac for the long term.”
de Nysschen said he is eager to join the GM team.
“I have for some time now been impressed by how the new General Motors has been transformed into a formidable force in the industry,” he said. “The combination of strong corporate leadership and exceptional engineering resources presents the perfect combination to restore Cadillac to its place among global premium brands.
“The recognition of the brand is immense, and the progress on the fundamental product front is widely acclaimed. I am delighted at the opportunity to join the GM executive team to lead the Cadillac business, and I look forward to working with my Cadillac colleagues and our global retail partners.”
Cadillac is the fastest-growing luxury brand worldwide, with sales improving approximately 30 percent globally in 2013, and an aggressive cadence of new models recently introduced and in cue. Some highlights include:
CTS - 2014 Motor Trend Car of the Year
Next generation 2015 Escalade arriving in showrooms
The summer’s launch of the 2015 ATS coupe, based on the success of ATS sedan, the 2013 North American Car of the Year Approximately 60 percent of Cadillac buyers are new to the brand
de Nysschen spent the last two years as head of the Infiniti brand worldwide. Prior to that, de Nysschen was chief executive of Audi USA for eight years and president of Audi Japan for five. He began his career with Audi in South Africa in 1993 after a variety of automotive positions with the Ministry of Transportation, BMW in South Africa and an automotive supplier.