In a previous era, General Motors marques operated autonomously, which made GM unique among all the automakers. But times change, and GM had to change with the times, taking advantage of economies of scale under the corporate umbrella. However, Cadillac‘s global head feels it’s time to give Cadillac some autonomy.
“Securing 100 percent mind share and dedication on the needs of the premium business is going to be an important change to the status quo,” Johan de Nysschen told Automotive News. “Cadillac will begin to develop its own identity, its own corporate culture.”
As the architect for Audi’s ascension into parity with its German luxury compatriots, de Nysschen helped create “a vision of a premium brand,” according to Russ Hill, who was head of sales for Audi in North America when de Nysschen arrived in 2004. “He had conviction that Audi was in a position to raise both price and volume. It was an iconoclastic position. But it was the right one, and it worked.”
And just like Audi, Cadillac has emerged as a contender on the world’s stage. In fact, this week Cadillac announced that it will produce a flagship model next year, which is the perfect opportunity to start setting Cadillac apart from the GM umbrella. De Nysschen says he’s “prepared to dedicate 10 or 15 years” to make Cadillac “the pinnacle of aspirational brands, stating, “The playbook is very similar.
De Nysschen, who Cadillac in August, says his first job is having Cadillac develop vehicles to match the top Germans as well as to think like the Germans. One of the hurdles he faces is Cadillac’s dependence to GM’s other brands, which he says isn’t a problem with Audi, BMW, or Mercedes, all of whom have one focus. In order to become a global premium brand, he feels GM must give Cadillac more autonomy, which should also include a unique powertrain lineup. He told Automotive News that Cadillac’s chief engineer, Dave Leone, will be working with the brand’s executive team and will assist “Cadillac-focused” engineers within product development to “plug into the corporate resources.” “That way, you’ve always got people who are wearing the Cadillac hat and setting the agenda,” de Nysschen says.
De Nysschen added that one problem that has prevented Cadillac from acting like a stand-alone company was its lack of scale compared to its global competitors, but globalization − especially with the Chinese market − should “give us the economies of scale.”