The Guy That Doesn’t Like EVs Doesn’t Make It As Infiniti Boss – Go Figure. Now Heads To GM?

3 years ago by Jay Cole 46

Johan de Nysschen Is Out At Infiniti/Nissan - You'll Never Guess Where He IS Reported To Be Headed Next

Johan de Nysschen Is Out At Infiniti/Nissan – You’ll Never Guess Where He IS Reported To Be Headed Next

In the early days of the “EV revolution” there was one name that stood for everything against the plug-in car.

Johan de Nysschen – Audi Boss

Here are some choice quotes from Johan from back-in-the-day with Audi:

An "Idiot" In Motion

An “Idiot” In Motion

“The Chevrolet Volt is a car for Idiots…No one is going to pay a $15,000 premium for a car that competes with a (Toyota) Corolla. So there are not enough idiots who will buy it.”

“Mass electrification” of the vehicles on American roads could lead to problems like a strained electric grid. Large-scale utilization of electric vehicles will require massive investment in new power stations that are much cleaner than the ones in use in the U.S. today.”

“(EVs) could merely shift greenhouse gas emissions from the tailpipes of cars to the smokestacks of coal-burning utilities. That’s not just my opinion. The California Air Resource Board this past April concluded that electric vehicles presently are second only to hydrogen cars in greenhouse gas impact when measured on a well-to-wheel basis”

This naturally lead to one of the oddest hires in the history of the automotive business – a leadership role at Nissan, as the top guy at Infiniti.

At this point we should give Mr. De Nysschen his due, the man is well respected in the industry, and really knows how to sell a luxury nameplate to the masses.

 Infiniti LE Concept

Infiniti LE Concept

Everyone Knows You Can't Sell An EV For More Than $50K

Everyone Knows You Can’t Sell An EV For More Than $50K

Shortly thereafter, the EV community received the fruits of his new tenure :

Surprisingly, the marriage of the two didn’t work out so well, and almost 2 years to the day Mr. De Nysschen came to Infiniti, he has resigned.

Thankfully, Andy Palmer who runs things at Nissan (officially he is  Executive Vice President) – and who is considerable more ‘pro-EV’ – is taking over the reigns temporarily at Infiniti while the company looks for a more suitable replacement.

There may have been some signs that all was not well between Mr. De Nysschen and Nissan when Mr. Palmer seemed to become the defacto voice for the brand in recent months.  In May, Mr. Palmer stated that the Infiniti LE was back on the automaker’s radar and would be produced in fiscal year 2016, shortly before the next-generation LEAF would be produced.

Officially, the reason for his exit is “personal reasons”, but it appears as the personal reason was to talk to GM (one of the worst kept secrets of the year) about taking over the top job at Cadillac shortly – a position which was just vacated by Robert Ferguson yesterday.  Seriously.

Good luck with him GM.

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46 responses to "The Guy That Doesn’t Like EVs Doesn’t Make It As Infiniti Boss – Go Figure. Now Heads To GM?"

  1. Josh says:

    Good riddance.

    If Caddy hires him, it would send a clear message that there is no plans to have widespread adoption of plug-ins at GM.

    Looking at the Audi plug-in progress since he left, shows how adamantly he fights the development of plug-in vehicles.

  2. Tim says:

    Unfortunately, could be a perfect fit.

    1. pjwood says:

      +1. Sad, but true. The ELR experience would be his first soft ball. Good yucks, with the sympathetic mucky mucks.

  3. offib says:

    Cadillac? Oh hell.

    1. Josh says:

      Caddy should get ready for a rename of all of their vehicles, ala Infiniti.

      I see an SRX-70 (Escalade) in our future.

      1. Carguy says:

        Actually when he renames the Cadillac cars they will probably be the

        1) QTS
        2)QTS
        3)QTS

        And of course the QTS-L for the Chinese market.

  4. JakeY says:

    I was surprised Infiniti even picked him up. Not surprised he’s leaving so quickly since he’s against the brand’s overall direction.

  5. HVACman says:

    Actually, Johan already secretly assisted Cadillac in some of their key EV decisions while still at Infinity. He was assigned the duty of establishing the ELR MSRP.

    1. offib says:

      You’re joking?

    2. Grant Gerke says:

      Right on.

  6. Thomas J. Thias says:

    Remember well these comments by Johan de Nysschen, then Audi’s Boss.

    In this story, NYT, December 3rd, 2009, Nysschen attempts to backtrack from his, “a car for idiots”, comments.

    Remember this is late 2009, one year before the 6 state beta rollout of the Chevrolet Volt EREV.

    Link Goes To NYT Article: “Audi President Elaborates on Criticism of Volt”

    http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/03/audi-president-chevy-volt-is-a-car-for-idiots/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

    Interestly enough, his “Corolla” comments has been throughly dismissed by publishing powerhouse US News, who on their Best Car Ranking rates the 2014 Chevrolet Volt Extended Range Electric Vehicle As the Equivalent of the 2014 Mercedes Benz C-Class!

    Link Goes To US News-

    http://usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/cars-trucks/rankings/Upscale-Midsize-Cars/

    Things are getting very interestion!

    Best-

    Thomas J. Thias

    517-749-0532

    Twitter.com/AmazingChevVolt

    1. Aaron says:

      So you’re okay with this guy going to GM? What if he kills the Volt PHEV and ELR PHEV?

      1. ModernMarvelFan says:

        I bet his first act at Cadillac would be the planned “collector edition” of ELR.

        Chevy controls Volt…

  7. Dr. Kenneth Noisewater says:

    It’s like GM just _really_ enjoys stepping on an infinite number of rakes. Like it’s a frickin’ _fetish_ or something.

  8. EV says:

    how is that idiot well respected? never heard of him, sounds like a douche and looks like one.

    Opinion invalid

    1. Jay Cole says:

      Well, not by the EV community…but he is hired to increase brand awareness and sell luxury cars.

      On those counts his track record has been very, very good.

      Great results at VW, then Audi, and Infiniti has done decently under his short stay (although one could argue that any Infiniti results were just opportunistic).

      1. offib says:

        VW? When did he leave. I remember how poxy VW used to be, around 2010 or 2011. If it ain’t diesel, it ain’t worth looking at. T

      2. offib says:

        VW? When did he leave. I remember how poxy VW used to be, around 2010 or 2011. If it ain’t diesel, it ain’t worth looking at. That’s why I was surprised that there was an e-Golf and GTE… I still can’t get over it, the same goes for Audi!

  9. Anon says:

    GM should be cleaning house, not digging in the trash bin and adding to their mess…

  10. DanCar says:

    To fix infiniti they need to increase quality drastically. Of course having high tech EVs will help alot, but people will bail quickly once there is competition elsewhere.

  11. kdawg says:

    I thought Palmer/Nissan were going to dump Infiniti? Now that Johan is gone.. seems like this would be the time to do it.

  12. ModernMarvelFan says:

    I don’t know why GM is so stupid in hiring this guy.

    What has he done at Infiniti? Infiniti has NOT done anything in the luxury car segment in the last 2 years and Cadillac is turning around except for the ELR blunder…

    This guy is NOT good for GM’s future. How can you hire a guy who openly criticized one of your “key future” product?

    1. taser54 says:

      It comes down to, “does his guidance sell luxury cars.” Past words are almost always forgiven when that person decides to play for your team.

      1. ModernMarvelFan says:

        Did his 2 yr stint at Infiniti produce any results?

        Was Audi successful b/c of him or VW/Audi’s engineering team?

        Remember that a leader have far more power to screw up a project than making its successful.

        1. kdawg says:

          When Buzz Johan left Audi, I think he said “To Infiniti and beyond!”. GM must be the “beyond”. I wonder where he’ll go next.
          🙂

          1. ModernMarvelFan says:

            Chrysler and Fiat group would be the perfect fit. If NOT, Hyundai/Kia would fit his “record” just fine as well…

        2. JakeY says:

          His biggest “accomplishment” in Infiniti was renaming all the cars in the brand with a “Q” in the front. Didn’t seem to help (sales dropped in 2013).

          1. kdawg says:

            Wonder if we will see a Quescalade

  13. Mark H says:

    He may be able to move luxury vehicles but his wide spread ignorance on EVs and utilities is just sad.

  14. Thomas J. Thias says:

    While Mr. de Nysschen, then, realising that his company, Audi, at that time lacked ANY realistic IP of scale, to persue the mass production of an #ElectricFueledVehicle product, his comments, then, like Toyota, today, served strongly to deflect, the perceived on comming freight train, now known as the surging Global Electric Fueled Vehicle Industry!

    PHEV? WHAT?

    Tech Lesson Time.

    Aaron, can you hear me?

    The Chevy Volt, Opel/Vauxhall Ampera Extended Range Electric Vehicles, Holden Volt Long Range Electric Vehicle and Stunning Cadillac ELR Extended Range Electric Luxury Coupe…

    On a closed drag track, with less then 18% State Of Charge left in the Traction Battery I can do this-

    Floor the throttle, wind the machine up to 101 miles per hour, hold it there for 3 minutes, bring the Voltec driven car to a complete stop.

    Then repeat the 101 MPH run back to start point.

    Then drive the 11 miles back to my home.
    I will not have burned a drop of gas!

    But then I get a call on the way home from my Mother, 450 miles a way.
    Urgent!

    I do not go home. Instead I hit the freeway and drive the 6 hours straight to her home, non stop, like any other car, naturally stopping once for gas!

    This is the EREV (Extended Range Electric vehicle) ability an thus called so!

    Not one vehicle in the Global Electric Fueled Vehicle Industry, the competetion, can do what I have described; the track senario with out burning a drop of gas and then the imediate 450 mile cross state, non stop run.

    -Definately not on the closed drag track without burning a drop of gas!

    While certain EVs can do the track, they then can not imediately then do the 450 mile, nonstop run, like any gas car, assuming one stop for ‘gas’, run to ma!

    Not the Ford’s
    Not the BMW’s
    Not the VW’s
    Not the Nissan’s
    Not the Honda’s
    Not the Mitsubishi’s
    Not the Fiat’s
    Not the Renault’s
    Not the Tesla’s
    Not the Kia’s
    Not the Mercedes Benz’s
    Not the Porsche’s
    Not the BMW’s
    Not the McLaren’s
    Not the Smart forTwo’s
    Not the Minni EV’s

    ~

    Only one other vehicle on the planet can pull off the drag track run then the 450 cross country blast and that is the Via Motors V Truck E REV!

    This, AAron is the difference between the PHEV and the EREV!

    Class is dismissed!

    Best-

    Thomas J. Thias

    517-749-0532

    Twitter.com/AmazingChevVolt

    1. Thomas J. Thias says:

      My above post was in responce to AAron’s reply to me-

      “Aaron
      July 11, 2014 at 3:19 pm
      So you’re okay with this guy going to GM? What if he kills the Volt PHEV and ELR PHEV?”

      Best!

      1. ModernMarvelFan says:

        Don’t worry Thomas, there are few GM/Volt haters here who basically comment on every GM/Volt related article and have nothing but hate coming from them…

        Aaron, Anon, Bloggin, Qwerty..etc are few famous ones out there… I am already tired of replying to their tireless bashing.

        1. Mark H says:

          Aaron does not hate the Volt, he just refuses to accept the term EREV because it can function as a PHEV ONE PERCENT (maybe less) of the time. His fixation is not helping the cause or helping people understand how the Volt differs from conventional PHEVs. Thus your rant is justified.

    2. Braben says:

      “Not one vehicle in the Global Electric Fueled Vehicle Industry, the competetion, can do what I have described; the track senario with out burning a drop of gas and then the imediate 450 mile cross state, non stop run.”

      Huh? What are you talking about? Of course a vehicle like, for example, the Ford Energi can go around a track and drive 11 miles home without burning gas, and then go 450 miles on gas. Why wouldn’t it?

      As to the difference between PHEV and EREV: “EREV” is nothing but a marketing term. Of course the Volt is still a PHEV, just one with a bigger battery than most other PHEVs currently on the market. The fact that it uses a quasi-serial hybrid configuration rather than something similar to Toyota’s “synergy drive”, doesn’t change that it’s PHEV (and it’s not unique either, since e.g. the Accord PHEV uses a similar configuration). Calling it a PHEV doesn’t change that it is a very capable vehicle. So, I don’t understand why you are so hung up on this “EREV” terminology?

    3. Murrysville EV says:

      Your post is as amusing as those that declare they won’t buy an EV ‘until it can go XYZ miles without recharging’, with the required range always a mile beyond what the current crop of EVs can do.

      The scenario you describe is possible, but unlikely. If that’s your requirement, great.

      Also, it’s funny how the goal of most Volt owners is to use as little gas as possible, citing 500, 800, 1000 MPGs over the course of several months. Those high MPG numbers mean they’re just doing short-range commuting, so if they really want to avoid gasoline – they should have bought a Leaf.

  15. Thomas – don’t hold back! Tell us how you really feel! 🙂

    There are (probably) lots of Johan de Nysschen’s spread all around the auto industry, sadly.

  16. Anton Wahlman says:

    The question isn’t whether he was right inthe past. He was. EV sales continue to be below 1% of the total.

    The question is whether he will be right in the future. And we don’t know what his opinion is about the future. So I don’t think it’s fair to judge at this point. Besides, why would he tell us what his plans are? Why should he tip his hand to the competition? Why not try to lead the competition into believing something different? Why tell the other side that you’re landing on Normandy beaches instead of Calais?

    1. ModernMarvelFan says:

      You have a point. However, as far as EV/plugin car goes, let us look at his record…

      He didn’t support anything electric at Audi/VW. After he left, VW and Audi basically annouced that everything will be “electrified” across the VW and Audi lineup and there are currently a long list of plugin cars planned coming out of VW. Even the XL1 is annouced.

      During his 2 years stay at Infiniti, just about anything electric are gone from roadmap.

      I am willing to bet that his first act at Cadillac would be “canceling” ELR. (Not that it is a bad financial move).

      The issue here is “vision” and “future roadmap”. Although some of his actions are “justified” for short term financial gain, successful long term automakers need to have visions. That is what GM needs and Cadillac needs. GM has a famous history of favoring short term goals over long term success and this seems to be a replay of that “outdated” strategy.

      Cadillac is already on a turn around. CTS and ATS are award winning cars and they are beating Germans at performance and handling. It is only a matter of time before they reach the success level they desire. But that is only short term success. With more and more younger buyers going to Tesla, future is what Cadillac needs to worry about.

      Instead, GM could have jumped into the “future” and bypass the traditional luxury market into the luxury EV market. With Johan de Nysschen in charge, that is very unlikely to happen…

      And look around, just about all luxury brands are coming out with plugin cars. Among all the plugin luxury cars, Cadillac has one of the “slowest” one among all..

      1. Thomas J. Thias says:

        MMF, assuming Cadillac’s traditional base has no use for a hyper car, the Stunning Cadillac ELR Extended Range Electric Luxury Cooupe fits the bill, just right.

        For $25,000 more, I can get 34% more speed in a Porsche Panamara S E-Hybrid PHEV.

        For $75,000 more, I can get 28% more speed in a BMWi 8.

        For #100,000 more I can get in on of 200 built, VW XL1 but not so much speed!

        For $16,000 more, I can get a similar equipt Tesla S With 40% more speed but limited range.

        For $779,000 more I can get a Porsche 918 PHEV and for 1,125,000 more I can get a McLaren p1 PHEV … a no I can’t lol!

        None of these cars, however, regardless of cost can let me put it to the gas man like this cadillac ELR can-

        Link Goes To OnStar Shared Data On VoltStats-

        http://www.voltstats.net/ELR

        My Very Electric Fueled Best-

        Thomas J. Thias

        517-749-0532

        Twitter.com/AmazingChevVolt

      2. Braben says:

        “He didn’t support anything electric at Audi/VW. After he left, VW and Audi basically annouced that everything will be “electrified” across the VW and Audi lineup and there are currently a long list of plugin cars planned coming out of VW. Even the XL1 is annouced.”

        But wasn’t Nysschen just president of Audi USA? I’m pretty sure that this kind of strategic decision is made by the executive team in Germany, not in the US subsidiary.

        Development of the car that later became known as the XL1 started sometime in the mid-2000s, while Nysschen was still with Audi.

    2. Thomas J. Thias says:

      My good friend, Anton. Enjoy your articles in the world press, via twitter and other outlets.

      As a Chevy Volt EREV owner you must still marvel at your fuel savings driving electric over gasolene.

      I sure do and have saved over $5,350.00 in fuel costs, after my buck of so a day, electric fuel costs since March of 2012.

      Heh, I see that a few Stunning Cadillac ELR Extended Range Electric Luxury coupe owners are doing so as well!

      Link Goes To Shared OnStar Data Dump Over At Volt Stats-

      http://www.voltstats.net/ELR

      We are just 32 months since #EVs1stWave, when the modern era began.

      On november 15, 2011, the Chevy Volt came off limited states, beta sales, and national sales began.
      Nissan with the Leaf followed a similar trajectory.

      Tesla was hawking Roadsters and talking, then, vaporware Modle S.

      So, in just 2 years, 8 months, the Global #ElectricFueledVehicle Industry is surging onword.
      Now passig 1/2 million in worldwide sales in this short time.

      This is a stunning realization!

      Ps – You heard it here:

      #1MillionEVsDec2015 USA

      Best-

      Thomas J. Thias

      517-749-0532

      Twitter.com/AmazingChevVolt

  17. Ocean Railroader says:

    It looks like the Nissan leaf was this anti EV dude’s down fall. The reason why was in May they had a record breaking sales of the leaf. On top of that every month so far the leaf has been selling more and more each month and is right now having it’s sales limited by production. This sales growth of a new winner product put a lot of pressure on him denouncing EV’s. In that if he keeps bad mouthing EV’s then why is the Nissan Leaf starting to change over from a niche product to a breadwinner.

    Most likely in his case Nissan wanted to make a rival to the Tesla model S and this guy was their brick wall so they got rid of him.

  18. SeattleTeslaGuy says:

    I’m not sure this guy deserves the special loathing that the EV community has for him. He’s a marketing guy. Everything they say is designed for one single goal – sell more of their products. I would bet he has looked at the Tesla track record and drooled. If cars ran on dog poop, he’d be singing their praises.

    1. Jay Cole says:

      I think the loathing comes from the fact he made a special effort to knock/disprove the technology (on many levels) at a time when there was no plug-in cars threatening the brand (Audi) he was leading.

      As his position also represented they made no financial sense, why go there at all? Or theorize about things like grid-strain and emissions as well?

      Much less call out a specific portion of the car buying public and call them idiots when Audi was separately also showing the R8 e-tron at the time?

      I think we can assume from his counter-intuitive actions that he has a personal ax to grind with EVs, and in those particular moments when he thought he probably wasn’t going to be quoted (or get picked up so virally) he made a Bob Lutz “global warming” guffaw.

      1. evnow says:

        But the fact that Ghosn picked him shows that even the most prominent EV backer among major OEMs didn’t about it.

        I’m fairly sure this departure has nothing to do with EVs and everything to do with his lackluster performance as the Infiniti boss.

  19. Linton says:

    Let see if I have this right. All you guys have said he has been head if 4 company is this right . Why has he been let go ? Is GM the stupid ones . Who is the person what hired this IDIOT. One more Q. Why have they gone out side of GM ? Why not hire with in GM . Why have they got IDIOT out sider that doesn’t like EV. GM board needs young blood . Old timer out . IM a old timer . yes I have VOLT . THEY NEED CHANGES.