Now here’s an interesting turn of events in the luxury car world: Former Infiniti chief Johan de Nysschen has been named global president of Cadillac. The man credited with building Audi into a powerhouse will take over as president of GM’s luxury division on August 1st. De Nysschen’s appointment comes as Bob Ferguson, who had led Cadillac since 2012, will return to Washington as senior vice president of global public policy to help improve GM’s image in the wake of the company’s much-discussed ignition switch recalls.

The 54-year-old de Nysschen joins a brand that has enjoyed tremendous success last year. Cadillac sales rose nearly 22 percent in 2013, while the ATS was the North American Car of the Year and the CTS was named MotorTrend car of the year. In 2014, however, Cadillac sales fell 2 percent through June, as GM struggled to build on last year’s momentum with brand-new vehicles, such as the ATS Coupe and the Escalade full-size SUV.

In spite of its recent success and the fact that it enjoys the strongest product lineup in decades, Cadillac still lags behind its German rivals as far as sales go. And this is exactly where Johan de Nysschen and its 21 years of experience with Audi and Infiniti will come in handy.

Click past the jump to read more about Johan de Nysschen.

Johan de Nysschen

Johan de Nysschen Leaves Infiniti to Join Cadillac
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The South Africa-born executive began his career with Audi in his native country in 1993. De Nysschen quickly made it up the ladder serving as president of Audi Japan for five years and chief executive of Audi U.S.A. for eight years. During his tenure, Audi sales in the U.S. increased a whopping 42 percent and the German automaker became a legitimate competitor to the likes of BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

Under de Nysschen, Infiniti took off to raise awareness of its presence in the market in both Europe and Asia and establish itself as a global luxury brand.

At Infiniti, de Nysschen devised a plan meant to reinvent the Japanese luxury brand. The South African is responsible for the company’s new naming structure, its involvement in Formula One racing alongside Red Bull Racing and for moving Infiniti headquarters to Hong Kong. Under de Nysschen, Infiniti took off to raise awareness of its presence in the market in both Europe and Asia and establish itself as a global luxury brand.

Also, Infiniti experienced record sales in the first six months of 2014, with 101,000 vehicles delivered - up 30 percent compared to same period last year. What’s more, de Nysschen backed Infiniti’s most daring project to date, the Q50 Eau Rouge. The Nissan GT-R-powered sedan, now just a concept car, will become the most powerful and luxurious Infiniti-badged sedan yet and fight against big guns like the BMW M3 and the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG.

Why It Matters

Sure, de Nysschen is a professional and he will make sure his plan is being carried out, but will the next Infiniti CEO be able to fill in the blanks?

The days when Cadillac used to dominate the American luxury market are long gone. BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi have stepped in to take over as the mainstays of the luxury battlefield as GM struggles to launch matching products in every segment. With de Nysschen — a smart and ambitious man — in charge, Cadillac might actually have a shot at closing the gap on its German rivals. We won’t go as far as to say Cadillac will catch up with BMW or Mercedes, because that won’t happen too soon, but de Nysschen will make sure to point the brand in the right direction.

On the other hand, we can’t help but think what will happen to Infiniti with Johan out of the picture. Sure, de Nysschen is a professional and he will make sure his plan is being carried out, but will the next Infiniti CEO be able to fill in the blanks? The brand’s future is pretty much covered for the next say two years, but de Nysschen’s successor will be facing a difficult task after that. Fingers crossed Johan’s legacy doesn’t fade away, as Infiniti is headed in the right direction, growing slowly but surely.

Press Release

General Motors today announced the appointment of Johan de Nysschen as President – Cadillac. de Nysschen will 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, 54, joins the GM executive leadership team as an executive vice president of the company beginning September 1 and reports to GM President Dan Ammann.

“Johan brings to our company vast experience in the development and proper execution of luxury automotive brands,” said 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 said he is eager to join the GM team.

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

“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.”

Cadillac is the fastest-growing luxury brand worldwide, with sales improving approximately 30 percent globally in 2013, and an aggressive cadence of new models recently introduced and in cue. Some highlights include:

CTS - 2014 Motor Trend Car of the Year
Next generation 2015 Escalade arriving in showrooms
The summer’s launch of the 2015 ATS coupe, based on the success of ATS sedan, the 2013 North American Car of the Year Approximately 60 percent of Cadillac buyers are new to the brand

de Nysschen spent the last two years as head of the Infiniti brand worldwide. Prior to that, de Nysschen was chief executive of Audi USA for eight years and president of Audi Japan for five. He began his career with Audi in South Africa in 1993 after a variety of automotive positions with the Ministry of Transportation, BMW in South Africa and an automotive supplier.

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