By Jeff Gilbert

DETROIT (WWJ) – As General Motors works to make its Cadillac brand a true global competitor, it’s decided the best man to lead that effort is somebody who’s already lead two import luxury brands.

The company announcing that Johan de Nysschen, who had led Nissan’s Infiniti brand for the past two years, would take over the presidency of Cadillac beginning August 1st.

“Johan brings to our company vast experience in the development and proper execution of luxury automotive brands,” said General Motors President Dan Ammann. “With over 20 years in this exact space, especially in the development of the Audi brand, his track record proves he is the perfect executive to lead Cadillac for the long term.”

de Nysschen will report directly to Amman, and–according to a GM press release, “Be responsible for all aspects of Cadillac globally including sales, pricing and network development, strategic brand development and marketing and product portfolio planning, including critical input for product engineering and design.”

de Nysschen is 54, a native of South Africa, and was chief executive of Audi USA for eight years.

GM has been positioning Cadillac as a strong competitor with European luxury brands. While its new products have been well received, the company has had trouble being accepted globally as an equal with those brands.

“The products seem pretty good,” said senior analyst Michelle Krebs. “But they have not earned their way quite yet brand-wise against the BMW, Mercedes, Audi of the world.”

This announcement comes one day after General Motors moved previous Cadillac President Bob Ferguson into the role of Vice President, Global Public Policy. That was similar to the role that Ferguson had prior to be chosen by then-CEO Dan Akerson to head Cadillac.

GM CEO Mary Barra said with the ongoing ignition switch recall, General Motors needed somebody devoted full-time to dealing with government leaders and other constituents.

“We need Bob’s leadership and full focus on rebuilding relationships and instilling confidence in GM’s efforts to create a new industry standard for safety,” said Barra. “As GM’s voice in critical policy issues, Bob will communicate a clear sense of purpose and collaborative spirit.”

This now re-aligns General Motors leadership team to put people with policy roles in policy type positions, and turning over product related to goals to people whose backgrounds are in developing and marketing products.

“I have for some time now been impressed by how the new General Motors has been transformed into a formidable force in the industry,” said de Nysschen. “The combination of strong corporate leadership and exceptional engineering resources presents the perfect combination to restore Cadillac to its place among global premium brands.”

There has been a revolving-door at the top of Cadillac, with several executives arriving and quickly exiting in recent years. The hope is that this appointment will bring stability.

“It’s one of their strong bookends, and it’s been kind of neglected of late, it seems, in terms of leadership,” said’s Michelle Krebs.

de Nysschen says he sees Cadillac as a brand ready to break out.

“The recognition of the brand is immense, and the progress on the fundamental product front is widely acclaimed. I am delighted at the opportunity to join the GM executive team to lead the Cadillac business, and I look forward to working with my Cadillac colleagues and our global retail partners.”

Connect with Jeff Gilbert
Twitter: @jefferygilbert


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