Millennials and Bad Roads Ruin Sedans, Cadillac CEO Says

Head honcho of the luxury sedan-maker believes younger drivers are no longer interested in performance, preferring lifestyle accessories instead.


It sounds like another case of "millennials ruin everything," a philosophy that is profoundly untrue. However, that is at least partially why Cadillac CEO Johan de Nysschen believes sedans are not selling as well as they used to, he said in a recent interview.

"It’s partially happening because of energy prices, where people are less focused on fuel consumption and sedans being lighter," de Nysschen said in Motor Trend. "But also it’s been driven now by the entry of younger consumers who really are less tuned into dynamics and handling and all of those things that used to excite enthusiasts. It’s more about the way cars complement and enable their lifestyle now." 

Indeed, it can be argued that some of the modern trends, such as stance and donk, are more about show than go. But there's always been a part of car culture into that. When I go to the track the majority of drivers there are younger than me. There may not be as many sedans, but there are plenty of coupes and hot hatches. Even at car meets away from the track, I see many younger drivers who have modified their cars with performance in mind rather than looks alone. Generalizations such as de Nysschen's are simply untrue, in my experience.

Another reason de Nysschen gives for the slow death of the sedan is bad roads. "And candidly, I also have to say it may also be influenced a little bit by the decay of America’s infrastructure," he said. "When roads no longer support high-performance sport sedans and ultra-low-profile rubber, people are going to respond to it."

Yet many cars come from the factory with low-profile tires these days, from hot hatches to large crossovers and SUVs. My wife's Ford Flex, for example, came with 20-inch wheels and low-profile tires. After a couple of flat tires, we've actually considered downsizing its wheels to run taller tires. While de Nysschen is correct about our crumbling infrastructure, that doesn't seem to be stopping manufacturers from keeping up with the trend of big wheels and short tires.