Ferdinand Piëch, The Man Who Transformed VW Into One Of The Most Powerful Auto Manufacturers, Dies At 82
Ferdinand Piëch, superlative engineer and shrewd businessman passed away unexpectedly on 25 August, according to his wife, Ursula Piëch. He was on the way to an event in Rosenheim, Oberbayern to take part in a conference. The grandson of Porsche founder Ferdinand Porsche, Piëch was born into a family deeply involved in the automotive world and he too started working for Porsche once he had completed a mechanical engineering degree. A move to Audi followed where, as the manager of technical engineering he was responsible for the Audi 80 and 100 concepts as well as initiating the development of a WRC car in 1977, which eventually led to the game-changing Quattro rally car.
His influence at Audi helped it become a worthy competitor to Mercedes-Benz and BMW and in 1993 he moved to VW where he was tasked with the even greater challenge of turning the company around from the brink of failure. He left his role as chairman nine years later having turned the marque into a global force. Piech’s influence continues to guide VW strategy today as the broad spread of brands under the groups from Skoda and Seat to Lamborghini and Bugatti share core technologies to spread costs and remain competitive.
Piëch then moved on to become head of VW’s supervisory board, a position he kept until 2015 when he resigned following the dieselgate scandal. Through a career spanning six decades Piëch will be remembered for his bold and often controversial management style, one he maintained was necessary to achieve great results. In hindsight few would disagree as the results speak for themselves, and iconic cars like the 1970s Porsche 917 race car and 1,000hp Bugatti Veyron would not have existed were it not for his far-reaching vision.