It seems to be revolving door time in Detroit following the announcement that one-time Cadillac man Mark LaNeve, 42, has left Ford’s Volvo division to become general manager at the troubled General Motors division.

LaNeve’s predecessor, Michael O’Malley, departed abruptly last month to head Ford advertising at the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency.

LaNeve worked at Cadillac for 14 years before becoming Pontiac Bonneville brand manager in 1995. In 1997 he moved to Volvo where he was vice president of marketing and then president and CEO.

As Cadillac’s fourth chief in five years he faces a big challenge. The division led the United States luxury car sector for over 50 years but the rot started when it was beaten by Lincoln in 1998.

Mercedes ousted Lincoln the following year to become the first importer to sell the largest number of luxury vehicles. And it got worse. Last year, Lexus stole the Mercedes crown and Cadillac finished fifth, way down below Lincoln and BMW.

LaNeve arrives just in time to oversee a $US4 billion Cadillac blitz of new products, new advertising and new marketing initiatives focused on making it once again the US luxury king.

New products, all featuring angular styling intended to appeal to younger buyers, will include the Escalade EXT luxury SUV early next year, the rear-drive 2003 CTS Lancing-built replacement for the failed front-drive Opel-made Catera, and a luxury roadster, also due in 2003.

“Mark is the perfect person to lead Cadillac in the global business arena,” said Ronald Zarrella, GM vice president and president, GM North America.

“We look for Mark to jump into the seat and provide the leadership from day one, continuing the strategy of Cadillac and introducing the new products that will be launched over the next two to three years.”