General Motors, seeking a faster turnaround at its flagship luxury brand, appointed Steve Carlisle president of Cadillac, replacing Johan de Nysschen, who is leaving the automaker immediately.
De Nysschen, 58, was overseeing a $12 billion plan to expand Cadillac's product lineup and was given unprecedented freedom, including moving the venerable luxury brand's headquarters out of Detroit to New York City and operating separately from GM’s core brands.
De Nysschen, in an interview Wednesday with Bloomberg News, said he left amicably and declined to go into details on what prompted his departure.
“We agree to disagree and we move on,” de Nysschen told Bloomberg. “There wasn’t a fight. Let’s call it philosophical differences.”
He became president of Cadillac in August 2014 after stints as head of Nissan Motor Co.'s Infiniti brand and chief of Audi's U.S. business.
The abrupt change, according to two people familiar with the decision, was a result of de Nysschen’s reluctance to accelerate product and operating plans and capitalize on current U.S. market conditions, where industry sales remain healthy. GM executives, the sources said, acknowledge that it takes time to rebuild a brand but there needs to be more commitment to the here and now, rather than the future.
“We appreciate Johan’s efforts over the last four years in setting a stronger foundation for Cadillac,” GM President Dan Ammann said 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.”
Carlisle, 55, will be at least the fifth head of Cadillac since GM’s emergence from bankruptcy in July 2009.
De Nysschen’s abrupt departure comes less than four months after Uwe Ellinghaus, Cadillac's chief marketing officer, left the brand for “personal reasons.” Auto marketing veteran Deborah Wahl replaced Ellinghaus last month.