Rid­ing in style

Cadil­lac is look­ing to re­vive lux­ury on four wheels

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By PAUL WELITZKIN in New York paulwelitzkin@ chi­nadai­lyusa.com

Once an iconic lux­ury car brand in the United States, Cadil­lac has seen its mar­ket share slip to ri­vals like BMW and Lexus. Jo­han De Nyss­chen is try­ing to re­cap­ture the magic that made Cadil­lac a world-wide sym­bol of au­to­mo­bile lux­ury.

To help ac­com­plish that task, deNyss­chen ex­pects China to play an im­por­tant role in the resur­gence of the­com­pany and the brand.

De Nyss­chen, 55, was ap­pointed pres­i­dent of Cadil­lac and an ex­ec­u­tive vice-pres­i­dent with par­ent com­pany Gen­eral Mo­tors Com­pany in 2014 af­ter serv­ing as head of Nis­san Mo­tor Co’s In­finiti lux­ury-car di­vi­sion.

He is re­spon­si­ble for all as­pects of Cadil­lac glob­ally. This in­cludes sales, pric­ing and net­work de­vel­op­ment as well as strate­gic brand de­vel­op­ment and mar­ket­ing.

Other re­spon­si­bil­i­ties in­volve prod­uct port­fo­lio plan­ning, in­clud­ing pro­vid­ing crit­i­cal in­put for prod­uct en­gi­neer­ing and de­sign — as well as over­all busi­ness re­sults.

At In­finiti, De Nyss­chen over­saw a move to new head­quar­ters in Hong Kong from Tokyo and over­hauled the com­pany’s prod­uct plan. Be­fore In­finiti, De Nyss­chen was pres­i­dent of Audi Amer­ica Inc, atVolk­swa­gen Group of Amer­ica Inc from 2004 and was in charge of busi­ness in the US. De Nyss­chen was also a mem­ber of the ex­ec­u­tive board of Volk­swa­gen of Amer­ica Inc.

Ear­lier this year De Nyss­chen said Cadil­lac was aim­ing to pro­duce an 11 per­cent op­er­at­ing mar­gin in 10 years as part of the unit’s turn­around plan.

De Nyss­chen has moved Cadil­lac head­quar­ters from Detroit to of­fices in­NewYork’s trendy Soho neigh­bor­hood. He adopted an am­bi­tious prod­uct de­vel­op­ment sched­ule with 11 new Cadil­lac mod­els in the pipe­line that will be in­tro­duced over the next five years.

De Nyss­chen be­lieves that Cadil­lac is poised to do great things in the fu­ture. Re­cently, he talked with China Daily about the com­pany’s strat­egy, busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties and prospects. The fol­low­ing are edited ex­cerpts from the in­ter­view:

How has China’s New Nor­mal af­fected Cadil­lac’s oper­a­tions in the coun­try?

De­spite the New Nor­mal of sin­gle-digit eco­nomic growth, China set a record for ve­hi­cle sales in 2015. The China mar­ket is ex­pected to con­tinue grow­ing, but growth will mod­er­ate and di­ver­sify.

We ex­pect an ad­di­tional 5 mil­lion units or more of growth in China’s ve­hi­cle mar­ket by 2020 to 30 mil­lion units, up from 25 mil­lion units in 2015. We ex­pect China’s lux­ury seg­ment alone to gen­er­ate com­pound an­nual growth of more than 10 per­cent through 2020.

We are very well po­si­tioned to par­tic­i­pate in that growth. Cadil­lac will lo­cal­ize­more­pro­duc­tion in China, which will fuel ad­di­tional growth.

Car sales have been good in China in the past few months. How have lux­ury sales been per­form­ing and how has Cadil­lac fared?

China rep­re­sents a key op­por­tu­nity given it is a very strong mar­ket with ris­ing de­mand for lux­ury ve­hi­cles. It is a cru­cial mar­ket for Cadil­lac’s growth.

In 2015 alone, Cadil­lac de­liv­er­ies in China were up 17 per­cent to a record 79,779 units. In May, Cadil­lac de­liv­er­ies rose 30 per­cent from a year ear­lier to 8,568 units.

De­mand for both the XTS and ATS-L lux­ury sedans topped 2,400 units. The XT5 lux­ury cross­over had de­liv­er­ies of 1,449 units in its first full month on the mar­ket.

We have grown our mar­ket share in the lux­ury seg­ment and ex­pect Cadil­lac’s de­liv­er­ies in China to grow by 25 per­cent to 100,000 units for 2016 as a whole.

Cadil­lac’s GM sib­ling Buick does well in China. What can Cadil­lac learn from Buick?

Like all our brands in China, Cadil­lac is fo­cused on the seg­ments where the de­mand is strong and grow­ing. This has been a key to our suc­cess from day one.

We are earn­ing cus­tomers for life by pro­vid­ing prod­ucts and ser­vices they re­ally want. Cadil­lac will also con­tinue to lo­cal­ize more en­tries for pro­duc­tion in China while of­fer­ing a very high level of cus­tomer ser­vice.

Cadil­lac opened a new plant in Shang­hai ear­lier this year. What ve­hi­cles are made there and how is the plant per­form­ing so far?

Pro­duc­tion at the new plant in Shang­hai has been ramp­ing up since we be­gan man­u­fac­tur­ing two mod­els this year – the Cadil­lac CT6 pres­tige sedan and Cadil­lac XT5 lux­ury cross­over.

The flex­i­ble and in­tel­li­gent state-of-the-art man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­ity will sup­port the growth of the Cadil­lac lux­ury brand in China while strength­en­ing our over­all in­dus­try po­si­tion.

How is your man­age­ment team in China di­vided be­tween Chi­nese and ex­pats?

Our man­age­ment team in China in­cludes lo­cal na­tion­als and ex­pats from the US and other coun­tries. The team works closely to­gether and with Cadil­lac’s global team. To­gether we con­tinue to do what is best for Cadil­lac and our cus­tomers — de­liv­er­ing the best prod­ucts and own­er­ship ex­pe­ri­ence to the Chi­nese mar­ket.

Is there a lead­er­ship style that is par­tic­u­larly ef­fec­tive in China?

Con­tin­u­ing our suc­cess in this dy­namic mar­ket re­quires be­ing open-minded. We need to lis­ten to the­mar­ke­tand­cus­tomers and re­act ac­cord­ingly. We also need to strengthen part­ner­ships and cre­ate more win-win op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Cadil­lac faces stiff com­pe­ti­tion in China and the US lux­ury car mar­ket. What does Cadil­lac have to do to dis­tin­guish the brand from BMW, Lexus, Mercedes, etc. in each coun­try?

Cadil­lac is a unique US lux­ury brand in terms of its tech­nol­ogy and de­sign. It is not copy­ing Ger­man brands. Cadil­lac has been out­pac­ing the lux­ury seg­ment as a whole in terms of growth. Our pri­or­ity is to con­tinue to grow Cadil­lac’s port­fo­lio, strengthen its brand iden­tity, and ex­pand its dealer net­work and lo­cal man­u­fac­tur­ing to keep up with in­creas­ing de­mand. Cadil­lac has many new prod­ucts and next-gen­er­a­tion ver­sions of cur­rent ve­hi­cles on the way.

I as­sume you have been to China. If so, dur­ing your trips to China, is there a place or area that par­tic­u­larly im­pressed you?

I had an op­por­tu­nity to stay at the Diaoyu­tai State Guest­house in Bei­jing — it is very beau­ti­ful and it was a very mem­o­rable ex­pe­ri­ence.

What hob­bies do you have?

I am very in­ter­ested in mo­tor­sports, ar­chi­tec­ture and like to travel to new places, to ob­serve cul­ture, his­tory and scenic splen­dor.


Jo­han De Nyss­chen, pres­i­dent of Cadil­lac and an ex­ec­u­tive vice-pres­i­dent with par­ent com­pany Gen­eral Mo­tors Com­pany,

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