You Can Go Home Again: Johan De Nysschen Returns to Volkswagen

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
you em can em go home again johan de nysschen returns to volkswagen

A year and change after his ouster as president of the Cadillac brand, Johan de Nysschen has returned to a familiar place: Volkswagen of America, where, many moons ago, the executive sat on the automaker’s board while serving as Audi’s U.S. boss.

This homecoming sees de Nysschen take on the role of chief operating officer for the VW brand’s recently-created North American region. However, it will probably not, as one TTAC writer opined in a chatroom discussion, lead to the renaming of the Jetta GLI as the Q220.

In a release, VW of America said the 59-year-old de Nysschen, who’ll report to Volkswagen Group of America CEO Scott Keogh, is the right person for the job of boosting the efficiency and sales success of the more-independent-than-before region.

“This industry, and this brand, are at a transformative moment. Johan will help make us faster, better and smarter,” said Keogh in a statement. “He’ll speed our decision-making and dive deep into our day-to-day business so we can continue to make this brand matter again.”

VW created the region in a bid to decentralize decision-making in the wake of the diesel emissions scandal. With diesels off the market and sales declining in the U.S., the automaker hoped to boost volume in the critical North American market by increasing its autonomy. U.S. dealers had long complained of VW’s sluggish response in getting the vehicles customers wanted to those key markets.

Another key plank in VW’s plan was the actual building of vehicles aimed at Americans. Enter the significantly enlarged Tiguan, Atlas, and upcoming Atlas Cross Sport.

“I’m looking forward to rejoining a Group and leader I know well and admire,” said Johan, in what may be a veiled swipe at General Motors CEO Mary Barra. “This is a great opportunity to play an important role at a company of this scale at a fascinating time.”

de Nysschen’s career arc took him to Infiniti after leaving VW Group, but it was the four years spent running Cadillac he’ll be most remembered for. Under his leadership, the brand moved its headquarters from Detroit to New York City, only to see it, like de Nysschen, return home after his departure. A sedan slump, marketing missteps, and a dearth of much-needed crossover vehicles (a situation de Nysschen blamed on foot-dragging GM execs) plagued his time at the storied American brand.

Despite new products unveiled following his replacement by GM Canada’s Steve Carlisle, most would argue that Cadillac still has a long way to go before it returns to greatness.

VW of America, on the other hand, is enjoying rising sales even as the market cools. Brand volume rose 6.6 percent through August of this year, propelled by the Tiguan and Atlas’ still-rising popularity. On the horizon, electric vehicle production looms as VW prepares to bring I.D.-badged vehicles to Chattanooga. A sportier Atlas and perhaps a pickup wait in the wings for the non-green crowd.

Frankly, it’s an interesting and non-terrifying time to be at VW of America. de Nysschen is probably breathing a sigh of relief.

[Image: Volkswagen]

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4 of 13 comments
  • Thejohnnycanuck Thejohnnycanuck on Sep 26, 2019

    “I’m looking forward to rejoining a Group and leader I know well and admire,” said Johan, in what may be a veiled swipe at General Motors CEO Mary Barra." I just wonder if his parting words to Mary were "dare greatly". Although in all honesty I still don't have a clue what the heck that means.

  • Akear Akear on Sep 27, 2019

    After de Nysschen left GM introduced their now infamous castrated Cadillacs. It seems Cadillac's decline happened over night. Hopefully, the strike will save Cadillac one impressive car the CT6-v.

  • Tassos I have driven exclusively manuals in my own cars for the first 30-40 years of my driving history. They were usually very affordable, fuel efficient simple vehicles with front wheel drive. Their manuals sucked (in the case of a 1983 GM vehicle I bought new) or were perfect (in my two 5-sp manual Hondas).After 2005, I started driving excellent 5 and 7 speed automatics in my own cars, which were NOT available in the US market with manuals.With today's outstanding automatics, which are also MORE, not LESS, fuel efficient than any manual, your question becomes MEANINGLESS.Because NO CAR "needs" a manual.Only some DRIVERS "WANT", NOT "NEED", a manual.Let us use language PRECISELY.
  • 3SpeedAutomatic And this too shall pass.....Ford went thru this when the model T was introduced. It took the moving assembly line to make real money. As time progressed, it got refined, eventually moving to the Model A. Same kind of hiccups with fuel injection, 4 speed automatic, Firestone tires, dashboards with no radio knobs, etc, etc, etc. Same thing with EVs. Yep, a fire or two in the parking lot, espresso time at the charging stations, other issues yet to be encountered, just give it time. 🚗🚗🚗
  • Art Vandelay 2025 Camaro and Challenger
  • Mike Beranek Any car whose engine makes less than 300 ft-lbs of torque.
  • Malcolm Mini temporarily halted manual transmission production but brought it back as it was a surprisingly good seller. The downside is that they should have made awd standard with the manual instead of nixing it. Ford said recently that 4dr were 7% manual take rate and I think the two door was 15%.