Auto industry veteran Johan de Nysschen is returning to the Volkswagen Group of America in a new role.
De Nysschen, 59, begins as chief operating officer of VW's North American region on Oct. 1. He will report to Scott Keogh, chief executive officer of Volkswagen Group of America.
Most recently, de Nysschen was president of General Motors' Cadillac division, and before that, led the Infiniti brand globally. He has 30 years of experience, including 20 with the VW Group, where he led Audi in markets including South Africa, Japan and the United States.
"I'm looking forward to rejoining a group and leader I know well and admire," de Nysschen says in a release. "This is a great opportunity to play an important role at a company of this scale at a fascinating time.”
He joins Volkswagen as it is still struggling to regain the confidence of buyers after the worldwide “Dieselgate” emissions scandal, which is still making headlines as former executives are facing new criminal charges.
The automaker only recently hired former Kia executive Saad Chehab in August as its senior vice president, VW brand marketing.
“I’m sure there will be marketing implications," Michelle Krebs, executive analyst for Autotrader, tells Marketing Daily. “[De Nysschen] has always had a strong hand in marketing.”
He had both fans and foes during his time with General Motors, according to one former Cadillac employee who worked with de Nysschen in New York.
“Johan's hard to categorize as a ‘sales’ guy or ‘marketing’ guy or ‘product’ guy. He was kind of all of the above,” notes the former employee. “[He was] charismatic, demanding, visionary, exacting, combative, knew luxury to his bones. He engendered a lot of loyalty with the New York Cadillac staff and a lot of fear and hate in Detroit.”
The COO role will streamline the executive reporting structure and let the brand better coordinate and align operations in the region, according to the automaker.
VW created the regional structure in 2016 to increase efficiencies and develop products tailored to markets, including the bigger Tiguan, the mid-size Atlas SUV and the upcoming Atlas Cross Sport, a five-seat, mid-size SUV.
"This industry, and this brand, are at a transformative moment,” Keogh says in a release. "Johan will help make us faster, better and smarter. 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.”