Ousting Of Cadillac CEO May Signal A New Start For The Brand

The ousting of Johan de Nysschen as Cadillac chief executive appears to mark a shift in strategy for General Motors.

During his tenure at the head of the historic brand, de Nysschen pushed to distinguish Cadillac from GM and radically expanded its presence in Europe and China in a bid to rival BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi.

However, according to Automotive News, de Nysschen’s bold revamp of Cadillac may have been too radical for General Motors.

“There’s no question Johan is a visionary automotive leader, but given GM’s conservative culture, he may have pushed things a step too far,” said executive director of industry analysis at Edmunds, Jessica Caldwell.

“It feels like Johan spent too much time chasing the German brands instead of embracing Cadillac’s unique heritage.”

Cadillac may adopt a slightly more conservative approach

Taking over from de Nysschen will be Steve Carlisle, the head of GM Canada.

Like GM President Dan Ammann, Carlisle has championed mobility and technology as areas where GM can grow. The conglomerate appears to think that Ammann is the best man for the job moving into a future potentially dominated by mobility and autonomous technologies.

“Looking forward, the world is changing rapidly, and, beginning with the launch of the new XT4, it is paramount that we capitalize immediately on the opportunities that arise from this rate of change,” Ammann said.

With Carlisle in charge, GM appears to want to bring Cadillac back under a unified corporate vision, rather than having it chase its own targets and objectives.

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  • Status

    If Cadillac returns to idolizing the past as being more important than showing the world the future, I’ll have no reason to listen to them any longer.

  • fabri99

    I understand the importance of embracing a brand’s heritage and I would love it if future Cadillac were to pay homage to the brand’s past glories (yes, give us the Cadillac Ciel), but… is this really what General Motors think it’s best for the brand? Visionaries is what you need nowadays, and new technologies, as well. They need to be competitive and appealing in the strategic markets and segments. The ERL poor results shouldn’t have stopped their effort in the EV market and GM should definitely bet on innovative solutions and futuristic technologies for their top brand. If they struggle to keep up with the Germans with what they already have, what makes them think that “a more conservative take” will be the solution?

    • Merc1

      Well chasing the Germans was part of their problem. They can’t keep up with the Germans off the race track. They need to go back to doing pure American luxury, but updated. Like what Lincoln is doing, but with proper (not overtly sporting) road manners. High quality interiors, tech and beautiful unapologetic styling and proportions. You can’t really duplicate a S-Class or 3-Series.


      • MarketAndChurch

        I agree entirely. Even if you could duplicate the S-class, people still wouldn’t buy it. The Lexus LS, the new Audi A8, and the 7-series are all very fine cars, on par with the S-class, but all of them combine to sell less than half of what the S-class sells in the US. No matter how great a 3-series that Lincoln, Cadillac, Acura, Buick, Infiniti, or Genesis builds, nothing from those brands will ever touch the 3-series in sales. People prefer the best (s-class), or a brand name (BMW). So the only strategy left for everyone else to pursuit is to not necessarily chase the Europeans, but to build a competent product, that, as you mention, have high quality interiors, tech, and beautiful unapologetic styling and proportions.

    • Cadillac’s glory years was 1950-1969…that’s a very long way back and mostly irrelevant to today’s luxury buyers…

      • Status

        Cadillac’s glory years were 1900-1945. After that, GM sought ways to erode (or rather demote) Cadillac from being an exclusive object of desire for the very lucky into being a object that just about anyone can have for little money.

      • Cobrajet

        The glory years were 1930-mid 80s.

        • No. Even Cadillac acknowledges that their glory years was from 1950-1969 and commissioned a book about it.

      • fabri99

        Well, big-size dramatic-looking coupes and convertibles could work well in the range, but they also need advanced and innovative technologies.

  • Ilbirs

    One thing that could be done when it comes to embrace heritage instead of mimicking Germans: bring back actual names instead of these alphanumeric combinations.

    • Сафиуллина-Мохамед Рамазанов

      Can’t agree more

    • Merc1

      New names though, like the ones from their concepts. Not those old tired/junk car names that embarrassed them back in the 80’s and 90’s. If you’re going to do a Seville then it needs to be a Phantom level car, not some repackaged Chevy like the XTS.


      • Ilbirs

        Other possibility is to rescue some names that, despite being used in not so remarkable products, weren’t tarnished by these models. Associate these with the ones coming from concept cars and you have a good mix of denominations that not only ennoble the brand as a whole but also put away the sensation of having the same model in S, M and L sizes.

      • Cobrajet

        A Seville would be at the level of the Ghost. The “Deville/Fleetwood” would be Phantom level. If you think Cadillac should be chasing after Rolls Royce, they should consider making a V16 again,or at least a V12, if not either they could try using an updated version of the 7.0L V8 that they used in the ATS-V+.

        • Tumbi Mtika

          Cadillac doesn’t have a 7.0L.

  • It is a brilliant idea of lunching a new brand. I still see GM’s successful new brands called Saturn and Hummer on the road.

    • Enter Ranting

      At the expense of storied brands like Oldsmobile, who were true innovators.

  • Bad move to push dN out, he was making some good moves for Cadi. Contrary to popular opinion, he was not the one to move Cadi to NYC, that decision was made before him, and this decision was pinned on Barra (this has well known by deeply connected auto journalists). If Cadillac continues to dip into the cheap parts bin of GM, to equip their cars, luxury car buyers will spend their money elsewhere. They chose someone from within their ranks, so basically they are choosing to go back to the old Cadi, that does not understand luxury anymore.

  • Tumbi Mtika

    Oh boy…

  • Liam Paul

    Damned if you do, Damned if you don’t

    • BlackPegasus


      Cadillac improved their chassis, made their vehicles lighter, made them more powerful, embraced the SAME alphanumeric naming scheme as the Germans yet it wasn’t enough for most car enthusiasts.

      • Tumbi Mtika

        Even though we’re the ones heaping the praise.

  • ErnieB

    So this is how it went down.. chairman brings him in surround by all board members.. asks the CEO: did you see Lincoln’s new Navigator and Aviator? CEO: yes sir I did.. I just bought the Navigator and it’s amazing and beautiful!!! Chairman: you are fired!

  • ejd1984

    How many “New Starts” has Cadillac had over the last 15-20 years?

    • dumblikeyou2

      I’d say less times than Chrysler has been bailed out, restructured, re-bought, re-sold, thrown a bone, etc.

  • Enter Ranting

    Cadillac is in a tailspin. Hint to Cadillac – it’s your lousy interiors and terrible CUE system that keeps customers away.

  • krusshall

    The media can’t decide which story line to use. Is it 1) He rubbed his superiors the wrong way or 2) He didn’t change things fast enough or as this article attempts to say 3) He was too radical.

    The facts speak for themselves. He had four years. He was given unprecedented autonomy and budget. He just wasn’t getting the job done to use a worn out cliche. Everything written is just finding a story to fill in behind the conclusion.

  • MarketAndChurch

    Americans aren’t in love with Cadillacs, so returning to “heritage” might not be the best idea. Most Cadillacs are just kind of boring, stale, from the ELR and ATS, to the CTS/CT5/XTS, their SUV’s aren’t as beautiful as the Germans, and while the Escalade still looks cool, it’s a bit old. Cadillac also has the most boring interiors in the industry right now. Their concepts always makes everyone fall in love with them, but none of that ever translates into their production vehicles.

    • Tumbi Mtika

      They’re the Subaru of luxury, basically.

  • Paul

    Another new start, that’s all we need. Bring back names and real American luxury.

  • John Smith

    No shit.

  • bd0007

    Means more cost-cutting, doing things on the cheap and boosting sales with incentive spending/lease deals (we’ve already seen the latter).

  • CBV2020

    Cadillac has strategically positioned itself on my actual last nerve. I almost want to call them idiots 🙁
    It’s hard turning against the one you love, but the emotional crash will make for a powerful, lasting memory. Hmm.

  • FoxJ30

    I think JDN’s target should’ve been more Lexus and less German. Focus on quality and competence, which really, is how the Germans got to where they are in the first place.

    It sounds like under new management, we’ll be getting more XTS style models and more platform sharing. Because when someone’s moving up from a Chevy, they’re not looking at Lexus or BMW or Audi or MB – no, they want a Chevy with fancy lighting and a different badge.

    I’m sure we’ll see a new Cimarron soon enough under this management.

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