On the last day before Christmas, Cadillac’s new boss Johan de Nysschen gave himself a big present while sending a honking lump of coal to his former teammates in Yokohama.
Commenting about the new Corvette-powered Cadillac CTS-V to his Facebook friends, de Nysschen had this to say:
“I suppose my handlers had the best of intentions when they wrote all these flowery quotes attributed to me. But really- who speaks like this? Personally, I’d be happy to be quoted as saying this car simply eats buzzy little German motors for breakfast. And then wonders what’s for lunch. It’s that awesome. But then again, that’s probably not a politically correct thing to say. Whatever. This is car is totally addictive.“
According to Business Insider, the CTS-V’s 640 hp 6.2 liter LT4 supercharged V8 “gives it plenty of giddyup to take on the BMW’s M5, Mercedes’ E63 AMG, and Audi’s RS6 Avant.” Its top speed is said to be 200mph, or 321 km/h on the German Autobahn. Not to rain on the Caddy’s parade, at those speeds, I’d rather rely on a chassis made by de Nysschen’s former Volkswagen Group employers.
Speaking of former employers, in the same Facebook post, erstwhile Infiniti chief de Nysschen lobbed this snide comment in the general direction of Yokohama:
“I heard a rumor that Noboru Tateishi is going to cop-out and shelve the Eau Rouge project now that I’m not there to pressure him. Tell any Cadillac or Audi engineer “build me a 560hp sports sedan” and you have to reign them in. At Infiniti, it seems easier to push water uphill. More enthusiasm for “driver’s aids”, apparently, than “driver’s cars”, in some quarters, it would seem.”
Tateishi is head of development for Infiniti, and the “560hp sports sedan” is a reference to the Nissan GT-R engine that supposedly, but never officially confirmed, will power Infiniti’s high end Q50 Eau Rouge, if and when the darned thing will ever get made. A high end sporty Infiniti had been high on de Nysschen’s agenda when he started at Infiniti, and when we had a chat at his Hong Kong office. A brawny Nissan Skyline/Infiniti Q50 also had the support of Nissan’s multi-role executive Andy Palmer, especially when a sudden love for car racing awakened in Palmer.
De Nysschen and Palmer departed in short order, de Nysschen to become CEO of Cadillac, Palmer to head low volume high end maker Aston Martin. Nissan signed BMW’s Roland Krüger as Infiniti President, but last we heard was that ornery BMW insists on Krüger sitting out his German contract before being released to Infiniti’s Hong Kong HQ.
De Nysschen said he is “trying to help my old team by provoking. They really want, need and deserve that car. But one guy is a bottleneck.”
I suppose, the help is not appreciated.
I asked Nissan for comment on de Nysschen’s comment, but it’s Christmas eve, and would you believe it, the Nissan headquarters in heathen Yokohama is firmly shut, and its many round–eyed executives enjoy mom, apple pie and Glühwein in their far-away ancestral lands. I can imagine they would be at a loss for words anyway. In any case, the bottleneck is not one man, or at least not the man Johan de Nysschen is referring to.
In the absence of anything remotely official, the word in Yokohama watering holes is that nothing has been decided as far as the Eau Rouge is concerned, and that nothing is going to be decided while Infiniti is awaiting Krüger’s release from Bavarian durance vile, and the triumphal arrival of the new Infiniti leader. New leaders have a tendency of re-shaping things, so it’s better to hand them hammers and chisels instead of setting things in stone, something a Johan de Nysschen should and will understand. Who knows, an Infiniti Prez from BMW might not want to be trolled by 640hp Cadillacs, or 707hp Chrysler cats from hell, and he could insist on an escalation of the brawn-wars. Those Bavarians don’t take shit.
Getting back to Cadillac: de Nysschen appears to position it as a strapping brand with an attitude, a one finger salute to the German opposition that seems to get mired in its own arrogance. Leading brand chiefs at global OEMs I talked to privately acknowledge that this strategy might just work, and that Detroit fans will rally behind it en masse once it works.
I also tried reaching Cadillac’s new ad agency Publicis for a comment on de Nysschen’s copywriting. Paris-based as it is, Publicis is firmly shut, not to re-open until the three magi complete their annual delivery of gold, frankincense and myrrh. A grumpy intern sent me the picture shown at the beginning, calling it a “very rough scribble.” Not quite there yet, but it shows promise. (Ok, that one I made up.)
PS, hours later ….