Ex-President Of Cadillac Johan de Nysschen Opens Up About His Departure72
It’s become clear that now-ex Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen and General Motors’ upper management didn’t quite see eye-to-eye. The executive’s turnaround plan for Cadillac simply wasn’t quick enough, nor producing results to satisfy demands for the here and now.
de Nysschen opened up about his departure to Automotive News in a Thursday report, and in an email, he said:
“I greatly admire and respect the GM top leadership but, in the end, I would conclude that in their opinion, I did not challenge hard enough. Accordingly, they exercised their prerogative to change leadership. It happens. It’s not personal, it’s business.”
We’ve long felt de Nysschen was a catalyst for change who would present his vision in a combative manner, and it’s exactly how he described his role at the brand.
“I saw my role to act as a change agent to challenge the status quo, in the reasoning that more of the same would not lead to a different outcome,” he said.
In his departure, he also penned a letter to Cadillac dealerships telling them they’ve all built a solid foundation for the next phase of the brand.
Although de Nysschen did not recount details of any particular clash with upper management, AN sources claimed the executive was reluctant to speed up product plans in the U.S. According to the unnamed sources, GM recognized that a brand turnaround takes time, but wanted to see a greater commitment to the present, and less emphasis on the distant future.
The executive told the publication that the top role at Cadillac was “demanding and massively energizing” role. He finally said he “loved the brand, the company and my job” and he’ll miss the role “very much.”
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Once again the GM brass misses an opportunity with short sighted thinking.
There is now way to build long term success by constantly changing leadership.
The change in the culture and the energizing of the dealer body was well on the way and they pulled the plug.
Under JdN average transaction prices were at an all time high as was customer satisfaction with the dealership experience.
GM is going down a bad road. Man if they start acting like per-bankraupcy GM they may be in trouble.
Johan was a great hire and was about to revolutionize Cadillac. Too bad.
This guy is a snake oil salesmen who will go from brand to brand until nobody will have him anymore. He finds fledgling luxury car brands and prays on them until he gets ousted then its on to the next.
JDN is perfect for CEO of Opel under Tavares at PSA. This move is so obvious I can’t believe others aren’t on this with me.
Opel HQ to move to Geneva or Monaco
Long swoopy hatch with a Hot-V TTV8
Mid-engine Halo car in 2030
Audi is a fledgling brand?
Infiniti is a startup?
“I saw my role to act as a change agent to challenge the status quo, in the reasoning that more of the same would not lead to a different outcome”
He was right. And now, we have more of the same – another GM career executive running Cadillac. Such a mistake. Cadillac needs a 10 year manager that is solely dedicated to that brand, with no ties to the other GM brands and way of thinking. They had that with JDN. Short-sighted GM just doesn’t get it.
Im glad he’s gone. Cadillac has been struggling for years. Now theyre being pressured by Lincoln of all brands. And GM sees this. He loved concepts but they dont mean a thing if they aren’t being put into production. He used GM’s resources but never had anything to show for the money he spent. Guarantee the New York studio will go next. Watch and see
What exactly are you blaming JdN for?
He was only there 4 years. That means he had nothing to do with Escalade, ATS , CTS, CT6, XT5 or that matter XT4.
They were all late in the process or already burning gas by the time he got there.
We know Escala has been greenlit so what are you blaming him for not doing ?
The XT4 is all his. 100%.
No. He had an influence, but it is not his car. The CT5 is..
Go to Jalopnik.com and read the recent article about Cadillac. It’ll explain it all. I seen it today and it hits a lot of key points. Its sad, i want to see Cadillac succeed but its not the case under JDN. He was all about brand image but did nothing to improve the vehicles.
Lets do a survey…..
Have you ever sat in a Cadillac?
Have you ever driven a Cadillac?
Have you ever owned a Cadillac?
Have you purchased/leased a Cadillac in the last 10 years?
Have you purchased/leased a Cadillac in the last 5 years?
Have you purchased/leased a Cadillac in the last 2 years?
Have you purchased/leased a Cadillac this year?
………and you want to blame who for the lackluster sales?
I’m on my second Cadillac, an XT5. It’s better in every way compared to my SRX: better, fuel economy, safety activation, handling with sport mode. The irony is I miss the SRX: faster shift points, interior that doesn’t look dead, and Cadillac Styling with those big tailights. I think that if Cadillac doesn’t find their heritage and build on that in the long term with exceptional customer service, “pickup service” like Lincoln, it will have a difficult time to increase profitable sales in the US.
Gmman99, I agree – the recent Jalopnik article about JdN/Cadillac is very good. They point fingers at the triumvirate of Johan, Uwe, and Melody. The fact that Johan would even allow Uwe and Melody to have prominent roles (even if he didn’t hire them) was always a sign of his bad management, as well as his pursuit of the young, rich, urban Manhattanites (who generally didn’t even own cars) while eschewing the traditional customer base.
One great line at the very end of that article is “In the end, it really felt like Cadillac was too busy chasing after a hypothetical customer that it didn’t stop to think about an actual one.”
Also the comments after that article are very insightful. Lots of people identifying the problem that Cadillac already was an established American luxury brand, and it’s been silly to try to transform them into a German-imitating “performance” brand. Johan was a guy who thought track-handling “performance” was the key to luxury success, while ignoring the interiors, the roominess, the ride quality, the refinement and reliability that American luxury car buyers actually care about. And for the few luxury customers who actually do care about track-handling performance, the market is already saturated with those offerings.
GMAuthority > Jalopnik.
Or maybe not. I need to go read this article.
Sorry guys but 1200 ATS’s a month and 900 CTS and CT6’s aren’t going to keep them afloat, i dont care what transaction prices are. GM could fill those orders in a week. We need sales boys. Im ready to return Cadillac to greatness, he wasnt our guy
Jaguar sells less than 500 units of the XE (ATS rival) and less than 350 units of the XF (CTS rival) each and every month, and “it keeps them afloat” just fine, and has for the past 20 years (XE wasn’t around 20 years ago, so it was actually worse).
Your comment shows that you have no clue about the margins of these vehicles, how to sell them, or how to run a luxury automaker (very different from selling silverados by the truckload).
But hey, is it easy being a negative nilly? Tell us about that…
You need to check your Jaguar history there chief. Bought out by Tata motors, so Jaguar isn’t even its own company. Its a subsidiary of Tata and had been struggling for years. They employ 37,000 people. Thats the entire Jaguar Land Rover subsidiary. They can function on that, plus with big daddy Tata to back them up theyll be fine. GM is working with way bigger numbers, 3 times that. GM Lansing plant alone could make Jaguars whole schedule in a month to cover the rest of the year. GM is setup to run production on a mass scale. Not get into this “niche” lower volume stuff. Thats what we had pre-bankruptcy and we failed.
Who Jaguar is owned by is irrelevant. They were owned by Ford prior to that, shall we dig that up as well? A case of missing the forest for a few irrelevant trees.
The primary point here is that the structure of the luxury car business is entirely different from the mainstream car business (Chevrolet)… and Jaguar has been selling way less than Cadillac in the US, while being profitable.
JLR’s profits are due to it’s global sales, and with US only sales they’d be losing billions. Cadillac would also be hurting also.
Yes, global sales are significantly higher for Jaguar than in the US. Cadillac and Jag actually have very similar sales volumes globally. But again, not the point.
The extremely limited sales volume of Jaguar sedans in the US is enough for them to stay in this market. Cadillac sells much more, and is obviously better off for it.
Ultimately, the notion that Gmann99’s notion that the above-mentioned sales figures for Cadillac sedans are “not enough” for the brand/division to be profitable are unsubstantiated and false.
It’s only worth while for Jaguar because US sales are incremental, so making the argument that Jaguar would be profitable based on US sales is wildly inaccurate even with the margins on luxury cars. The ATS is probably the only Cadillac car that makes money, and it’s not US sales doing it; they sale 4-5x as many in China. The CTS and certainly the CT6 are blood baths financially. Not that I’m saying Cadillac shouldn’t make those, they are necessary for being a legitimate luxury brand, which allows you to sell 15k XT5s a month.
Cadillac is profitable because of one product: Escalade. Other models may make a little but it’s the Escalade that is really paying the bills.
The Jaguar model does not appear to be profitable or even self-sustaining. It’s certainly not what GM wants Cadillac to be, which is a profit center. This is a business, after all. Johan seemed to be clueless about the economics of Cadillac, in thinking that increasing marginal profit margins while decreasing volume was a route to profitability. Or maybe he just didn’t care, and wanted to build and price the cars as he pleased, regardless of the profit impact on GM.
Jaguar is only in business now as a “halo” brand for otherwise also-ran car-makers. It couldn’t make it on its own, so Ford bought it, thinking that if nothing else, at least it could bring some cachet to Ford, and maybe some trickle-down technology. Ford put a lot of money into Jaguar, and almost certainly lost money in operating and eventually selling Jaguar. Now Tata owns it, trying to do the same thing – keep it afloat with profits from their cheaper, higher volume brands. Maybe it will help Tata with their image, but I doubt it will ever become a profit center, unless they massively expand production and sales volume per model.
The era of low-volume profitability is long over. It costs far too much today to design, engineer, test, tool production, train workers, advertise, etc. for each car model, to think that you can make money with low volume and high prices. Johan clearly didn’t understand the economics of the car business. You can’t offset $1 billion or more of fixed costs per model with low volume, high prices.
I wonder if Johan ever understood the economics of fixed costs and marginal costs. He seemed to think that it’s ok to just price your cars well above marginal costs, and they are “profitable” at any volume. WRONG! And Johan wanted exclusive Cadillac engines, exclusive Cadillac platforms, and expensive platforms like RWD everywhere eventually. He didn’t want to share anything with GM, but he wanted GM to pay for it all. And they were willing to bankroll him to the tune of a $12 billion subsidy, but that wasn’t even enough for him to deliver.
GM does not break out profits by brand or by model. But based on development and production costs, prices, and sales volume, it’s likely that only 3 Cadillac models were profitable in the US while Johan was at the helm – the Escalade, the SRX/XT5, and the XTS. Yet those were the models that interested Johan the least. What Johan really liked were his low volume, sporty -V/V-sport models. He barely updated the Escalade, and he planned to drop the XTS. The heck with profits, as far as Johan was concerned.
No wonder GM dumped JdN. Cadillac does not exist as a loss-leader or personal plaything for anyone. It’s expected to be a significant profit center for GM, and GM is a publicly traded business, expected to make money for shareholders – that’s why it exists at all. A money-losing, low-volume Jaguar model did not cut it for GM’s board, and congrats to them for taking this action.
What many people don’t understand, and this applies especially in luxury, is that you need a line of legitimate RWD performances sedans in order to sell the low hanging fruit (FWD CUVs and the XTS). People need a reason to pay for the badge, and you build that by catering to the hard core aficionado. This is why the A3 and CLA work, and why Lincoln doesn’t.
XT5 does serious numbers too.
From what I read Cadillac is profitable every year even at their sales figures to date. Are they profitable enough to do their own development work or has GM (Chevrolet) been propping them up all these years.
I would love to see decentralized operations come back to Gm . I just don’t want to see one brand get what they want at the expense of the other brands.
Dan Amman said that Cadillac was “very profitable” a couple years ago, which was before China really took off.
You can’t blame sales of these vehicles on JDN when the market as a whole is shifting away from sedans. Sedans everywhere are struggling. Looking at the portfolio he was given, JDN did well in sales numbers and ATP, the latter of which is more important to the financial health and prestige of the company.
Pick a recent date range, after pickup trucks you’ll see the Camry and Accord sell just fine…
Not in the same class as luxury sedans, though. And the shift from bread-n-butter sedans are moving to bread-n-butter CUVs also. Apples to oranges to luxury and bread-n-butter products.
“I greatly admire and respect the GM top leadership but, in the end, I would conclude that in their opinion, I did not challenge hard enough. Accordingly, they exercised their prerogative to change leadership. It happens. It’s not personal, it’s business.”
This tells you all. He ‘did not challenge hard enough’. That’s in his own words. That means he feels that’s what happened. That means he knows he didn’t deliver when he promised us a jaw dropping product and 4+ years later we got the XT4. His own long term plan produced shortcomings for today’s product. He didn’t put enough effort into today’s cars and I fully agree with GM on that one. As new or updated Cadillac cars were brought to light and they were clearly not the new standard of the world but we kept saying this isn’t his product, just wait, be patient….and than again…we got the XT4. If you get pretty much 5 years and all the resources you need to build a small CUV it should be a freaking ‘monster’ and since its debut couple months away the automotive world has forgotten about it already.
GM acknowledged it would take time to turn the brand around and they gave him everything he needed to be successful and he simply failed. For that, I applaud GM for recognizing it so quickly.
There is so much an automaker can do on a small CUV/car on a budget compared to a big-body SUV/sedan with more disposable budget. This is not the only focus for De Nysschen to be ousted or hardly at all.
What he wanted to do is make complete new products the right way and not just option up a Chevy model slap a chime grille on it and call it a Cadillac.
The board wants a puppet and JDN is no ones puppet.
Cadillac as a luxury division has the luxury no pun intended of selling in lower numbers yet still making a profit.
Cadillac had time but share holders pressing the board for higher stock prices did not.
Now will be a defining moment will Cadillac build on what they were left with or will they return to the shortcut ways back to what failed them before.
They really need to decide if they want to be a legitimate player or a poser.
I get the feeling the XT4 was not what JDN wanted but was what GM demanded. I expect both sides were left disappointed.
In the end Cadillac I’ll not fail but they will fall well below what they could have been.
Back to being Walmart Luxury again.
I wonder what the Halo car will look like in Mary Kay Pink? Sad!
Its so cute that you keep writing “option up a Chevy model slap a chime grille on it and call it a Cadillac” like it has any basis in reality…….
What Cadillac is an “optioned up a Chevy model slap a chrome grille” save maybe for the Escalade, its most profitable and recognizable car, an icon of its segment……
ATS? No Chevrolet equivalent, and you can’t use the Camaro, it came after the ATS, so its really a de-contented Cadillac being sold as a Chevy
XTS? Shares Epsilon with an Impala, like the Silver Wraith shares a platform with a 7 series………
XT5? The 2nd most popular car in the line up? Again shares a platform with other GM cars, like a Bentyaga(or what ever the F its called) shares a platform with a Touareg.
I have always believed that you can’t have Cadillac and Buick competing for the same customers. Cadillac must move way up scale not just in price but in products. I think JDN’s problem was that he put the cart before the horse. He upped the price before he upped the product. Give the custumors a product to match or exceed the competition and priced according they will look. With Cadillacs past reputation they needed to give a price advantage to get them to buy.
Bud, you hit the nail on the head. Boosting the price to compete in the category you aspire to doesn’t translate into reality.
Cadillac has needed to address the quality/reliability issues and never does! They keep churning out average or less than average vehicles with the excuse that better vehicles are coming as they keep alienating more customers disenchanted with average vehicles at luxury prices.
Basically the “old cronies” have been told to take a hike since this is not the customer Cadillac wants. As these customers leave and purchase something else the pool of potential customers becomes more limited. Why should a Mercedes, Audi, or BMW customer, specifically a young one, want a Cadillac? The Cadillac doesn’t have the persona of those vehicles, with little incentive to leave their existing brand. The general reputations of these vehicles are consistently above Cadillac.
Halo vehicles are fine, but generally don’t pay the bills. Cadillac needs to produce high quality vehicles. Tire shredding models are fine and enjoyable, but the basic models need to be spot on! I appreciate high performance vehicles, but the percentage of buyers that require this as a necessity is very small!
I would say I can see the Board’s point if their concern was with the pace of change. Yes, new products take time and turning around a brand doesn’t happen quickly but good advertising can sometimes do wonders and it never seemed like JdN and Uwe were trying very hard on that front. He seemed to be waiting for everything to be in place, for all the groundwork to be laid, before beginning the messaging of Cadillac’s renaissance. Sometimes the message precedes the actual renaissance; it is a harbinger of what’s to come.
In the early 1980s when Pontiac needed a turnaround. They really started with a new ad campaign in 1981 focusing on a different demographic and with a more energetic feel. The very memorable ‘We Build Excitement’ campaign came before the products that backed up those words. Truthfully, when the ads began to run, the cars weren’t yet all that exciting but in time, those products came and it all came together. By the time the 80s were drawing to a close, Pontiac had surged to the third bestselling automotive brand in America, behind only Chevrolet and Ford.
I think Cadillac’s lineup was already good enough to support a bold ad campaign that made a lofty statement so instead of a coffee haus and fashion shows, perhaps Cadillac should’ve been spending money prepping the public for a Cadillac to come. Although I like “Dare Greatly”, Cadillac just never seemed to be daring at all, and certainly not greatly but even that might’ve worked if they’d put some real money behind it and saturated the public consciousness with that message.
If the Board sacked JdN because the pace of change was slow but they are still committed to the project and the direction he’d set forth, then his termination is actually a good thing. If, as we’ve seen so much with GM, it’s instead a retreat, it’s clearly a very bad thing.
Remember the ELR ad that was bold, cool and American and everyone called racist and jingoistic? Peppridge Farm remembers.
Lincoln has caused GM to take power away from JDN; Immediate successes Navigator Continental and Aviator have worried the GM dome.
Lincoln is rising like foam while Cadillac is still stuck, what’s wrong?
Hmmm… the Continental is an “immediate success”, eh? Then why is it being discontinued? And why is it being outsold by Cadillac full size sedans that also garner a higher ATP? An immediate success the continental is not.
And the Aviator has yet to sell a single unit or go into production. Immediate success? More like hyperbole.
Success can be defined in several ways. Continental may not be a sales success, most sedans are not right now, but it was certainly successful in generating positive press for Lincoln with a sort of ‘Lincoln is back’ kind of headline. I think that may be part of JdN’s undoing, the Continental, by virtue of it’s classic name and stunning good looks clearly upstaged the CT6 in New York in 2015. While Lincoln got a lot of ink, Cadillac received little attention for what is, dynamically, the better product. That story repeated again in New York a few weeks ago when the much-hyped “first ever” XT4 was upstaged by the surprisingly good Aviator. When the GM Board says they want more urgency, I would imagine they are seeing events like this and comparing the buzz being created by the folks in Dearborn with JdN’s focus on 2022 and beyond.
Further, related to the future of Lincoln’s biggest sedan, my understanding is that Lincoln’s dealers were recently told there will be a future Continental and with center-opening doors. I would argue that to go beyond just impressing folks at auto shows, Lincoln needs a real RWD Continental with properly hinged doors and with the proportions of the concept. I think that would generate more than just headlines.
The only thing the Continental says is $60K Fusion.
The Aviator is a concept and a good looking concept on top of that but when the actual vehicle comes out, it would be interesting to see how much watering down the vehicle will receive.
A small CUV/sedan for that matter hardly make successful headline news vs. sales volume, no matter what automaker it is.
The Continental production model was watered down quite a bit from concept. Concept cars, if done right, will be glowing press release stories. Look at the Cadillac Sixteen, Evoq and Cien for as the latest concepts like Escala, Elmiraj and Ciel concepts back in the day. They had glowing reviews by both, critics and general public alike.
The CT6 V-Sport was the darling of the two Cadillacs that debuted this past month for obvious reason due to the fact that it is a big luxurious car that is out of reach for most people while the XT4 is more attainable at a budget.
I refer overall the impact over the press opinion to the new Lincoln design languaje.
Very impressed about luxury; material, retro 50’s style………..
GM see this and still seeing Cadillac stuck…………..and patience finished
What a charlatan. “I did not challenge hard enough”. NO Johan, you just never understood what Cadillac meant to Americans, you tried the same strategy of imitating the Germans that had failed Cadillac for over 35 years. You acted like you had some grand vision of the future, as well as having expertise on execution. Then you delivered your first real product, the XT4, and GM knew they’d been hoodwinked by a total fraud.
In hindsight we could see this coming from day 1 of Johan’s tenure. He was no engineer, no designer, no production guy. JdN was supposedly a marketing expert, but he merely rode the Audi wave and got credit for their sales in the USA. When it came to Cadillac, he couldn’t even market the product well. In the end, all Johan was really good at was marketing himself, with lofty visions of “the future” if you’ll “just wait” (another 10 years, or “sometime after 2022” and “stun the world”). GM was smart to can this guy after the sub-mediocre XT4 appeared, despite all of his bluster and hype ahead of it. Now he’s spinning his personal PR machine to make his firing about something else. Just in case some other car company would be stupid enough to hire him.
What’s hard for me to believe is that many of JdN’s cheerleaders are still cheering for him. Sorry cheerleaders, time to take your pom-poms and go home. Game over, you lost. Cadillac won.
He was destroying Cadillac.
Hope we get some Alpha/Omega Buick and Chevy sedans out his unfortunate departure.
Please, no, on this. Caddy’s platforms need to be exclusive. There should be no Caprice version of the CT6 and no Lumina based on the CTS.
So continue to have limp-dick Chevys n Buicks because???. Luxury buyers will still buy a Cadillac because they want one, not because a Chevy on the same platform will automatically give them alternatives, cancel the Suburban and Tahoe if that’s the case.
I could see a less expensive version of Omega being used for a LaCrosse and Impala replacement in the next few year, if anyone is interested in sedans at all by then. I think that would be the only way to garner any interest in sedans at all by then, plus it would help to spread some of the costs around, it doesn’t have to have all the same advanced aluminum construction like the CT6.
as VCAT put it Buick’s luxury is cramping into Cadillac . GM should be realizing Buick was the wrong division to hold on to . The bread and butter luxury division they should have held on to was Oldsmobile
There is nothing wrong with Buick being around. Also, most of the sales are from their CUVs at attainable prices. The Lacrosse and Regal can’t seem to have a break from lower volume sales like Cadillac. Actually, Buick sedan sales volume are a little worse than Cadillac sales volume if you figure pricing ratio of the two brands and others in general.
When he walked in the door , he had 2 all new sedans , the ATS and CTS. What did he do? Nothing. They could have easily done quite a bit more. What? Promote the strengths (driving dynamics), simplify the packaging/options and most importantly , get people to “DRIVE THEM”. Instead, very little was done (catwalk ad anyone??) with either vehicle and sales have steadily declined.
It’s almost as if that was the goal? Run these two names into the ground, and then roll out the CT5, and proclaim greatness, huge increases, etc….
The Lincoln Navigator is what the Escalade should be, but Lincoln, which was left for dead, actually created a plan and executed it while Cadillac did nothing. End of story.
So Lincoln was just biding its time while the Navigator was a joke for the last decade because???
“Newer product is better than product that has been out for several year”-NEWS FLASH!
His only “failure” is that of not having been able to resurrect what GM had long ago just about destroyed. I wish the new guy a lot of success and think that now is way too early to judge the wisdom of the decision to change the leadership of Cadillac.
If he had so much wisdom and leadership why didn’t he market the car’s he had right in front of him, keep Cadillac sales up, until he could get his own vision/future of Cadillac out here ?
GM basically gave Johan a $12 Billion dollar check and said turn our luxury division around .
So he moves to New York , opens a coffee shop where you couldn’t even order a car , gives helicopter rides to the Hampton’s , tells the public that he doesn’t want to see a Cadillac parked in every driveway in America , and really had no idea what the American customer wanted from this countries luxury division . HHHmmmmmm……
And after 4+ years at the helm the only thing he has to show for it is the XT4 , which the hard core cheerleaders started to write not to expect to much of the car ,prior to the launch of it .
GM is in business to make money , period . Johan just didn’t live up to GM’s expectations or he would still be there . He thought to global and forgot that Cadillac is an American Co. and should never have tried to Europeanize ( word ) the division . How do you launch a company when your base is in so much trouble , it doesn’t work for any company .
Sure TAP’s were the best in the luxury segment , maybe because the price of Cadillac’s are getting out of hand , and if you want to dominate you also need to be a segment leader with market share .
In corporate America it’s always ” just business ” and you either conform or your dismissed .