In a breaking news alert just moments ago, that Cadillac boss Johan de Nysschen is departing the automaker effective immediately. He will reportedly be replaced by GM Canada head Steve Carlisle.
De Nysschen was appointed as President of Cadillac in the summer of 2014, and tasked with bringing the American luxury automaker out of its past and into direct competition with its European and Japanese counterparts. Before joining Cadillac, de Nysschen had served as President of Infiniti Motor Company, preceded by many years at Audi.
The South Africa-born executive presided over huge changes at Cadillac. In the fall of 2015, de Nysschen moved Cadillac's headquarters from its traditional home in Detroit , casting the brand as a separate GM unit—though design and engineering duties were still handled in Michigan. De Nysschen saw the move as part of a push to make Cadillac a coveted luxury brand worldwide, not just in its North American home.
He also laid out an ambitious $12 billion plan to develop eight new Cadillac models by 2020, with an emphasis on crossovers. The first vehicle fully designed and built under de Nysschen's tenure, the Cadillac CT6, debuted the automaker's new styling direction and European-influenced naming convention.
The Cadillac boss also launched a controversial dealership improvement plan, , an attempt to modernize the dealership experience with high-end luxury touches. The plan morphed several times, largely in response to push-back from longtime independent Cadillac dealers across the US.
The automaker showed tangible improvement under de Nysschen's guidance, but faced uphill battles. Global sales grew, particularly in the booming Chinese market, but the brand's sedan-heavy lineup was a harder sell in the US, where crossovers and SUVs are king. Another ambitious and unusual idea, Book by Cadillac, offered a $1500-a-month subscription service where customers could swap between any of Cadillac's current models on-demand. The program is still in testing stages in limited markets.
In a statement, General Motors indicates that de Nysschen is leaving to pursue other interests.
"We appreciate Johan’s efforts over the last four years in setting a stronger foundation for Cadillac," said General Motors President Dan Ammann in a statement. "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. This move will further accelerate our efforts in that regard."
De Nysschen's replacement, Steve Carlisle, has worked at GM since 1982, holding senior leadership positions in product planning and sales both in the US and Asia. Most recently, Carlisle served as managing director of GM Canada.