Published: Sat, April 21, 2018

Cadillac Abruptly Gets New President

Cadillac Abruptly Gets New President

Steve Carlisle will replace Johan de Nysschen, who is leaving effective immediately as head of the Cadillac group, as it prepares to bring out the XT4 compact utility vehicle.

Johan de Nysschen exited immediately on Wednesday and was replaced by Steve Carlisle, who had been president of GM Canada since late 2014.

His career has taken him across the globe, with leadership positions including vice-president of global product planning (2010-2014), vice-president of United States sales operations (2010) and president and managing director of GM's South-East Asia operations (2007-2010).

No details were immediately available about why the move was so abrupt.

Under de Nysschen's leadership, Cadillac introduced some of its best cars in decades, garnering industry-wide praise for its high-performance and luxurious offerings such as the flagship CT6 sedan, as well as CTS- and ATS-V models.

His departure comes as the brand is falling behind its luxury competitors. The XT5, which replaced the SRX in 2016, did little to improve demand with about 68,300 sales past year - no better than SRX sales in 2015, even though SUVs have been on a tear in the U.S. In his tenure with Audi, de Nysschen oversaw the German luxury brand's sales renaissance from 2004-2012. While buyers and owners are now able to enjoy an experience more akin to that offered by Lexus and Audi, the project drew ire from the brand's dealers as they were forced to take on most of the financial risk for the upgraded amenities and services.

Mr Hester will relocate from the Warren technical centre in MI to GM Canada headquarters in nearby Oshawa, Ontario, overseeing the operations which employ more than 9000 people and include two vehicle assembly plants, an engine plant and R&D centre.

This sort of arrangement means Cadillac needs a leader with the sort of long-term vision de Nysschen has, but also with an eye on the short-term bottom-line in order to please GM shareholders. Cadillac is surging in the world's largest automotive market, having posted a 51% sales increase in 2017.

Growth in the US market is mostly happening with crossovers and SUVs, and Cadillac has been trailing its German and Japanese rivals on that front.

One of the issues that contributed to de Nysschen's exit, said people familiar with the matter, was that Cadillac spent a lot of its marketing efforts developing content to build the overall brand and didn't do enough to sell individual models. He spearheaded moving the company's headquarters out of Detroit to New York City. The change at the top "will further accelerate our efforts in that regard", the statement quoted Mr. Amman as saying.

Travis Hester, now vice president, Global Product Programs, will replace Carlisle as managing director, GM Canada.

Carlisle, Nysschen's replacement, began his career at GM in 1982 as an industrial engineering co-op student.

"The potential for Cadillac across the globe is incredible and I'm honored to be chosen to be a part of mapping that future", Carlisle said in a statement.

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