In explaining the role, Volkswagen said its COO would "streamline the executive reporting structure and let the brand better coordinate and align operations in the region."
This summer, Keogh brought in Saad Chehab as the new head of VW's U.S. marketing and hired a new president for the assembly plant in Tennessee.
German parent Volkswagen Group created its regional structure in 2016 after its diesel emissions scandal in part "to let the teams closest to the business make more of the decisions that affect the brand" in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
A spokesman for Volkswagen of America said Keogh was unavailable to comment further on his appointment of de Nysschen beyond a written statement: "Johan will help make us faster, better and smarter. He'll speed our decision-making and dive deep into our day-to-day business so we can continue to make this brand matter again."
In adding de Nysschen, his old boss at Audi of America, to his executive team, Keogh is bringing in a well-known and experienced executive who's familiar with the inner workings of Volkswagen of America and its corporate parent.
"If Scott is feeling somewhat overwhelmed with the process of rebuilding VW in the U.S., what he likely needs is an experienced manager capable of executing plans and processes," said Karl Brauer, executive publisher at Cox Automotive. "With Scott charting VW's course and Johan charged with execution, it could be a very effective pairing."
In October, Keogh, 50, marks his first year heading the brand in North America and overseeing Volkswagen Group's other brands in the region.
It's been a busy year for Keogh, including an $800 million expansion of the automaker's Chattanooga Assembly plant, a UAW organizing drive that turned into a close but unsuccessful vote to unionize the plant, and a culling of several models from the Volkswagen brand lineup. Keogh has also had to consider whether to add a pickup to Volkswagen's U.S. lineup while preparing dealers for the introduction next year of their first battery-electric vehicle, the ID4 crossover.
In comments to Automotive News at the Frankfurt auto show in September, Keogh said that one of the biggest challenges facing Volkswagen is the large number of consumers who reject the brand outright, largely because of its diesel emissions scandal.
"We had nearly 30 plus percent of the market outright avoiding Volkswagen. So forget cross-shop, purchase funnels, pricing, getting your day in court — 30 percent of the market would flat-out avoid the brand," Keogh said. "If you're trying to compete with 30 percent of the market disengaged, that's a tough number."
Volkswagen launched a brand-building campaign in June to combat the image of Volkswagen as the "evil empire" from Star Wars movies, Keogh explained, by admitting that the automaker had done wrong, and "we're a company that has a purpose, and we want to do better, and we want to be smart." Just three months into the campaign, Keogh said brand avoidance had been reduced by almost half but that additional brand-building work remained.
Having spent his automotive career in premium marques, de Nysschen might seem ill-suited to a populist, mass-market brand such as Volkswagen, which has a long-term goal of returning to the 5 percent market share it enjoyed in the U.S. in 1970, roughly double its current share.
But John Luciano, chairman of the Volkswagen National Dealer Advisory Council, said de Nysschen's operations role will allow him to focus on improving the quality, production and delivery of Volkswagen vehicles to dealers, leaving Keogh and others to focus on sales and marketing.
"The things he's going to take on and take off of Scott's plate will be really, really worth it," said Luciano. He added that de Nysschen may bring "a little tough love" to the brand and that he is "extremely seasoned and good at what he does."