The new president of Cadillac, Johan de Nysschen, is putting his own stamp on General Motors' luxury brand. And in keeping with de Nysschen's unique style -- which often walks a line between arrogant and absurd -- he's turning a few heads.
Last September, we learned that Cadillac was pulling up stakes and moving its headquarters to New York City. Given the planning needed to institute that change and the fact that de Nysschen hadn't been on the job too long when the announcement was made, it's clear that Cadillac's relocation was in the works before he came onboard. However, de Nysschen is undoubtedly in favor of the switch, and he's now leading the company's charge eastward. That's his first major mark on the brand.
This week and throughout the coming weekend, though, de Nysschen is talking about something different: his new vision for Cadillac dealerships. And that vision sounds suspiciously like the one that de Nysschen pioneered during his days at Audi.
Today, Cadillacs are sold at roughly 900 locations across the U.S. Of that number, about 200 are standalone Cadillac dealerships, which serve as the company's flagship stores. None of those numbers are expected to change.
What de Nysschen wants to do is add about 700 "boutique" showrooms to the Cadillac network. According to GM:
"The boutique concept would feature exclusive Cadillac consumer touch points, highly trained sales and service staff and luxury amenities.... 'Virtual Showroom' systems could enable shoppers to quickly configure and envision multiple models, color and interior choices using interactive digital displays, or potentially even holograms."
That sounds great, but also very similar to the digital showroom concept that de Nysschen envisioned at Audi, which offered the German brand "the ability not only to present its growing model line-up – including all colours, equipment options and functions – in its entirety, but also to offer customers the chance to experience the sheer breadth of the range in full".
De Nysschen hasn't revealed much in the way of details about these boutiques, except to say that they're meant to supplement, not supplant, conventional Caddy dealerships.
It would be easy to accuse de Nysschen of recycling ideas from his previous gig, trying to pass them off as new and fresh at Cadillac. And if he were the only one touting this boutique concept, we'd be inclined to do so.
But this seems to be the way that sales are going. Today's consumers are used to shopping in the privacy of their homes, on their computers and mobile devices. With mouse clicks and screen taps, they customize products -- from cars to clothing -- without high-pressure sales pitches from commission-hungry employees. This is why auto brands and dealer networks are ramping up efforts to sell vehicles online and to change their real-world sales models so that they match customer expectations.
Tesla created its own boutique experience for shoppers years ago. Audi followed suit. If Cadillac does the same, it's not because de Nysschen is out of ideas, but because he wants to make shoppers comfortable, happy, and satisfied.
Need a refresher on the Audi boutiques that de Nysschen helped create before his sudden departure for Infiniti (which was followed by his move to Cadillac)? Have a look at the clip below.