Volkswagen announced Thursday morning that former Audi of America President Johan de Nysschen will return to the company as the chief operating officer for the Volkswagen brand in the VW Group's North American region.
De Nysschen worked for the VW Group for 20 years before departing in 2012 to become CEO of Infiniti, a post he held until July of 2014. De Nysschen then joined GM as the president of Cadillac. He remained with General Motors until he was abruptly dismissed in April 2018. His replacement at Audi of America, Scott Keogh, is now Volkswagen of America's CEO.
"This industry, and this brand, are at a transformative moment," said Keogh. "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."
De Nysschen's impact at Infiniti was limited by the fact that he spent only two years as CEO of Nissan's luxury subsidiary, but it was there that his reputation for rebranding attempts achieved an almost meme-like status. His most noteworthy accomplishment was a model nomenclature shake-up—Q for cars, QX for crossovers—that many still find confusing.
At Cadillac, de Nysschen oversaw the brand's relocation from Michigan to New York City, and helped to overhaul its product strategy and branding. Part of that branding strategy was yet another change to model-naming convention, which Cadillac is still in the process of rolling out.
It was only days after unveiling of the 2019 Cadillac XT4—the first product to be developed entirely under his tenure—at the 2018 New York Auto Show that de Nysschen was let go.
Fortunately, de Nysschen and VW Group had an excellent working relationship. He is credited with Audi's American turn-around and the subsequent streak of sales growth that ended up lasting years after his departure. He left the company on good terms.
"I'm looking forward to rejoining a Group and leader I know well and admire," said de Nysschen. "This is a great opportunity to play an important role at a company of this scale at a fascinating time."