It’s been one year since Johan de Nysschen was ushered out as Cadillac President. At the 2019 New York International Auto Show, Automobile sat down for a lengthy discussion on a number of topics, but he also spoke quite a bit about his time inside GM’s luxury division.
Foremost, as we’ve reported in the past, de Nysschen did not lead Cadillac’s move to New York City, he confirmed. The former Cadillac boss shared it was former GM CEO Dan Ackerson’s decision, which newly appointed CEO Mary Barra carried out. De Nysschen was the executive to announce the move. Even though critics called the decision a disaster for the brand, de Nysschen believes to this day that a premium brand needs space from a parent automaker. All the while, he said Detroit was always the brand’s home. Instead of cheerleaders, Cadillac made enemies with the New York City move, he said.
The former executive said his ultimate goal at Cadillac was to see the division grow again. De Nysschen described numerous areas where he implemented new ways of thinking and programs to ensure the brand received what it deserved. For example, he described the implementation of Cadillac-specific teams for things like product planning, powertrains, manufacturing, design, and engineering.
De Nysschen said previously, engines were often developed with the Chevrolet brand in mind first. So the ethos went, it was “good enough for Cadillac,” he said. A new Cadillac-specific team would have a voice at the table to argue for better NVH levels, or perhaps minor adjustments for the premium brand.
The former executive described numerous instances where GM’s mainstream brands simply took Cadillac along for the ride. Despite his exit, he believes these plans are still very much on track—including the shift to make Cadillac a technology leader and spearhead GM’s electric car programs. He confirmed Chevrolet will not lead the EV pack going forward.
De Nysschen also seemed to hint we’ll see more exciting things coming from the brand next decade. The vehicles the brand has debuted so far were part of a first phase to simply catch Cadillac up to the competition, he said. These include the XT4 and XT6, which compete in two major crossover segments. He called out the next Escalade specifically and said it will be “fantastic.”
Personally, de Nysschen wasn’t ready to leave Cadillac. He called his departure a “big setback” personally and professionally. He remains sure he did everything he said he would do for the brand. Looking back, it’s “all water under the bridge,” he commented.