VW’s Johan de Nysschen retires

Johan de Nysschen is leaving his job as Volkswagen Group’s North American COO, saying he has “done everything I have set out to do here.”

De Nysschen, 62, who previously worked for Audi, Infiniti and Cadillac, framed his departure from VW as a retirement from the auto industry after a three-decade career, indicating that he plans to stay at his new home in Tennessee and “truly relax.”

“It’s time for me to step aside and let others who are more than capable to lead the way,” de Nysschen said in an interview with Wards Auto published Thursday. “I’ve done everything I have set out to do here, but you are never truly ‘done.’ There’s always the next thing in any job.”

A Volkswagen of America spokesman confirmed to Automotive News that de Nysschen had voluntarily stepped down.

De Nysschen’s job, which the company created for him in 2019, will be eliminated as part of a leadership restructuring, the spokesman said.

De Nysschen said he told Volkswagen Group of America CEO Pablo Di Si of his plans to retire back in July, when Di Si succeeded Scott Keogh.

De Nysschen told Wards he and his wife intend to stay in the home they’re renovating in Chattanooga, Tenn., where they moved last year to be near the company’s U.S. plant. He said he wants to help out in the community and get involved with local universities’ engineering programs.

“It’s beautiful here, there are many lakes and trees, and we can truly relax,” he told Wards.

De Nysschen, a native of South Africa known to be outspoken and quick-witted, helped Volkswagen improve the quality of its North American-made vehicles and strengthened the company’s relations with dealers.

He moved to VW after General Motors fired him as president of the Cadillac brand. In his four years running Cadillac, de Nysschen irritated some dealers with sweeping plans to overhaul the brand and its retail network. He also relocated the brand’s headquarters to New York — a move GM reversed after ousting him.

De Nysschen was named an Automotive News All-Star in 2020.

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