Cadillac head Johan de Nysschen abruptly leaves GM

General Motors

General Motors headquarters in Detroit WKAR File

The company says Steve Carlisle will replace Johan de Nysschen, who is leaving to pursue other opportunities.

De Nysschen came to Cadillac in surprise jump from Infiniti, the luxury division of Japanese automaker Nissan, where he was expected to work the same magic he did as the US chief of Audi. Soon thereafter, de Nysschen took the unusual step of moving Cadillac's headquarters from GM's base in Detroit to NY in hopes of absorbing an upscale mentality.

De Nysschen was hired away from Nissan's Infiniti luxury brand with much promise and named president of Cadillac in August of 2014.

Nysschen also focused on sedans as the market quickly turned toward buying crossovers and SUVs.

General Motors Co. its subsidiaries and joint venture entities produce and sell vehicles under the Chevrolet, Cadillac, Baojun, Buick, GMC, Holden, Jiefang and Wuling brands. The change at the top "will further accelerate our efforts in that regard", the statement quoted Mr. Amman as saying.

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As de Nysschen revealed to in an interview earlier this month, at least two more utes are coming in the near future, with 11 models in all set to debut by 2021, a roll-out averaging one new product every six months. It gives Cadillac a powerful engine to compete with rivals at the upper end of the auto segment, but was a puzzling investment given the surge in electrification at premium global brands and given Cadillac's inability to compete with higher-volume, lower-displacement powertrains.

Cadillac, however, has surged in China, the world's largest automotive market, having posted a 51 percent sales increase in 2017. Nysschen leaves after a almost four-year stint at the company.

Worldwide sales rose 15 per cent past year with sales in China soaring 51 per cent.

Carlisle began his GM career in 1982 as an industrial engineering co-op student at the Oshawa Truck Assembly Plant.

Cadillac's marketing chief, Uwe Ellinghaus resigned for personal reasons in December.

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Growth in the US market is mostly happening with crossovers and SUVs, and Cadillac has been trailing its German and Japanese rivals on that front. Carlisle was previously president and managing director of GM Canada.

"There's no question Johan is a visionary automotive leader, but given GM's conservative culture he may have pushed things a step too far", said Jessica Caldwell, the head of industry analysis for data tracking service Edmunds.

"I look forward to building on our current momentum as we continue on our mission to position Cadillac at the pinnacle of luxury", Carlisle said.

In a release, GM said Steve Carlisle will become the new president and senior vice president, while Travis Hester will take over as president and managing director of GM Canada.

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