Johan de Nysschen Chats About Cadillac’s Future

Johan de NysschenThe good guys over at MotorTrend got some time with Cadillac’s head honcho Johan de Nysschen about recent Cadillac moves and what is next.  It’s a great read that you can find over here.

For those of you not wanting to take the time to ready the entire interview, let us give you the high points:

The Escala Concept  Built by GM’s production studio and much more production ready than any of the past concepts we have seen (Cien, Elmiraj, to name but two).  This could mean the Escala is a strong indicator of a flagship that would sit above the CT6 in the lineup.  Mr. de Nysschen had criticisms for the past Cadillac concepts in that they showed design themes that were not part of Cadillac’s plan – so were ‘not a smart move’.  This seems to be admission that Cadillac fans fell hard for these prior concepts which made the lack of production versions sting all that much more.

Changes are coming for CUE  Recognizing that the current CUE system has not met with wide acceptance, Cadillac will be bringing a physical controller to the system, in line with what we see from Audi, BMW, etc.  This will prevent the touch screen from being the primary interface (which is largely where most of the criticisms for CUE center).

Escala’s 4.2l twin-turbo V-8  He isn’t yet ready to announce the engine for production (though this seems like less of a ‘will they’ but rather a ‘we’ll announce it when the product it will live in is ready to be announced’)

Product mix – Crossovers  The market has moved to crossovers in a big way and Cadillac is readying offerings between XT5 and Escalade (XT7?) as well as below the XT5 (XT3?)

Product mix – platform sharing with the rest of GM  75 percent of luxury buyers will be Gen X and Gen Y customers by 2020.  Millennials are also important to the brand and Cadillac (and their competition) are moving to catch these buyers as they get into their first luxury product.  Dedicated platforms in these lower price points are not profitable – forcing some level of platform sharing.

Cadillac expects that buyers of sedans will prize driving dynamics enough that dedicated platforms will make sense.  For crossovers, design and utility will be driving factors and using a corporate platform (a la SRX/XT5/Escalade) but with Cadillac specific suspension and power-trains will allow them to compete.

The Escala Concept introduces the next evolution of Cadillac design.
The Escala Concept introduces the next evolution of Cadillac design.

The Dealer Experience  We have heard recently that Cadillac is attempting to buy-out their smallest/lowest volume dealers.  In this interview, we find out why.  The smaller dealers are largely co-located with other brands with Cadillac not being the core brand.  This can and does lead to potential buyers coming in and getting a ‘Chevrolet or GMC brand environment’ instead of the luxury treatment they might have desired.  It appears that the drive is to eliminate dealers that are not committed to the Cadillac buying experience.  Then with dealers that are small but are committed, using that as a competitive advantage by having a closer dealer to some customers.

China  While the US is Cadillac’s #1 market, China is growing rapidly.  So, future product will be developed to reflect that reality (largely like we have already seen with different power-trains available in the Chinese market.

The interview closes with Mr. de Nysschen discussing how chasing volume with discounts is not the way forward.  Volume in the US will, with Chinese sales, be able to dip lower without being considered a failure.  That point of view speaks to Cadillac sales being lower to flat while other brands were seeing improving numbers.  Though even this is changing over the last few months with Cadillac global numbers increasing.

The interview is worth your time.  If you want to see the entire text, jump over to MotorTrend.com