Saturday, April 21, 2018


Cadillac, as a car company, with a long and proud history and traditions is finished!

General Motors may as well shutter Cadillac’s glamorous new head office in New York City, rent some cheap office space in crumbling, downtown Detroit, and immediately stop building all the current car range.

It should increase mass manufacturing more Cadillac badges - to be worn by a series of anonymous GM crossovers from its current range.

This week Cadillac’s independently-minded knight on a white horse, Johan de Nysschen left Cadillac to ‘pursue other opportunities’ – meaning, he was summarily fired by GM’s top brass. And that’s a real pity.

Johan de Nysschen was, in his own words, ‘a change agent’ and dramatic change was what he said Cadillac needed. After joining Cadillac in 2014, he moved as swiftly as he could in the lumbering giant, which GM has become. He invigorated the design of fashionable and stylish sedans, pumped up spending on flashy crossovers and attempted to shift the GM managements’ and Cadillac team’s mindset to becoming more like Rolls-Royce than Chevrolet.

Was it working? The dealers, who damned de Nysschen’s “Project Pinnacle”, were the driving force behind his departure. According to the stats, after Johann joined in 2014, Cadillac’s annual sales fell 11% since 2015, but last year the decline was only 8% - however, in a market as big as the USA that’s a lot of lost sales.

The dealers said Cadillac was producing too many cars, not enough 4x4s and crossovers, and they needed a sales boost ‘now’, not when ‘Project Pinnacle’ kicked in, in a few years.

Did Cadillac enjoy any success from de Nyscchen’s moves? Yes, sales were increasing in China, where deliveries rose 8% - however, even that good news story failed to deliver a silver lining. Cadillac was forced to heavily incentivize its cars in China.

In the USA, incentives rose dramatically to – wait for it – USD$8700 per car! That’s up 57% on last year! I can see why GM’s Boardroom was getting nervous, as Sir Johan rode on his merry way saying: “all would be well, in a few years”.

However, as Johann drops the keys to his office on the desk, slamming the door behind him, there’s good news on Cadillac’s sales, which will produce a record number of deliveries in 2018; following 2017 sales of 356,467 – an increase of more than 16% over 2016. How’s that for ironic?

I am certain Johan de Nysschen would eventually have broken Cadillac away from the GM herd, and would have managed to find a balance between more crossovers, and stylish new cars like the beautiful Escala concept.

But, in a business that big, balance often takes a long time, as does shifting the perceptions of customers (and dealers), and there was just no collective patience to allow Johann to give his steed its head.

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