Nation & World

Cadillac chief leaves GM

de Nysschen cites 'philosophical differences'

The General Motors world headquarters is seen in downtown Detroit, Michigan May 31, 2009. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook
The General Motors world headquarters is seen in downtown Detroit, Michigan May 31, 2009. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

General Motors Co.’s Cadillac chief left the company in the midst of a $12 billion plan to turn around the brand, citing strategic differences with other managers.

Johan de Nysschen said Wednesday he would exit immediately and would be replaced by Steve Carlisle, who’s been president of GM Canada since late 2014. De Nysschen, 58, joined the automaker in July 2014 after managing Nissan Motor Co.’s Infiniti and Volkswagen AG’s Audi brands.

In a phone interview, de Nysschen said he left amicably and declined to go into detail on what spurred his departure.

“We agree to disagree and we move on,” he said. “There wasn’t a fight. Let’s call it philosophical differences.”

During de Nysschen’s nearly four-year tenure, Cadillac’s recovery efforts have been a mixed bag. Record global sales are expected this year largely due to China, where the brand has been among the fastest-growing in an expanding industry.

The United States has been a different story. Annual deliveries declined in all but one of the years under de Nysschen.

Cadillac debuted a new XT4 compact crossover last month at the New York Auto Show that will be crucial to maintaining momentum. The brand struggled in the United States to a large degree because too few SUVs were in the lineup at a time when luxury buyers were abandoning sedans in droves.

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When the XT4 arrives later this year, it’ll be one of only three SUVs in Cadillac showrooms. German rivals such as Audi, Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz and BMW’s namesake brand have had more crossovers for consumers to choose from for years.

One of de Nysschen’s strategies was to raise prices on Cadillac models to maintain a more high-end clientele. That tact contributed to lower volumes that dealers complained about early in his tenure.

He held the line to rebuild the brand’s cachet.

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