Obituary: Volkswagen's visionary leader Ferdinand Piëch

By on August 31, 2019

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Ferdinand Piëch, Apr 2010Picture copyright
AFP

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April 2010: Ferdinand Piëch in an Audi in Hamburg

The German Automotive business has misplaced a legendary leader: Ferdinand Piëch, who instructed Volkswagen to global success.

Mr Piëch took cost of VW in 1993 at a time when the carmaker, based totally in the north German metropolis of Wolfsburg, was making heavy losses.

However by using 2014 VW was once promoting more than 10 million automobiles yearly. Its revenue was greater than €12bn (£11bn; $13bn).

Mr Piëch had made his identify as a sports Car engineer at Porsche. He oversaw the design of the race-successful Porsche 917.

That Car gained the Le Mans 24-hour race in 1970 and Porsche’s sales took off.

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Getty Images

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The Long-lasting Porsche 917 took motor racing through storm in 1970

Mr Piëch collapsed in a restaurant on Sunday and died quickly after. He used to be Eighty Two, and the daddy of 13 children via 4 girls.

His widow Ursula Piëch paid tribute to his engineering skill, saying: “Ferdinand’s life was formed by way of his ardour for Cars and for the workers who created them.

“To the very finish he was once an enthusiastic engineer and Car lover.”

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Reuters

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Ursula and Ferdinand Piëch in 2012

Extra on VW and the auto industry:

His rigorous attention to quality was accompanied by way of a tough management fashion described through some as “autocratic”.

He was once identified for the “steely stare” of his blue eyes and his brusque, no-nonsense speech.

Under his management, VW extended to change into the executive global competitor to Toyota.

Cars within the household

His mom Louise used to be the daughter of Ferdinand Porsche, who had invented the VW Beetle and launched the luxury Porsche model.

His father Anton Piëch used to be an Austrian Nazi and ran the VW Wolfsburg plant All Through World War Two.

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Media captionGoodbye to the Beetle

In later existence, Ferdinand Piëch spoke about the “hardening” formative expertise he had as a early life at a Swiss boarding school in Engadine. He had been sent there after getting mediocre grades in Austria.

That “dark” duration, he stated, taught him to be self-reliant, “because that you could’t rely on folks”.

He went on to review engineering in Zurich, got a degree for a venture on Formulation One engines, and joined Porsche in 1973.

He hoped to develop into Porsche’s chief govt, However Porsche relations blocked him. All Through one row with them, German news website online Spiegel reviews, he shouted: “I’m a wild boar, However you are the home pigs!”

It used to be it sounds as if his means of claiming: “I Will Be Able To take care of myself, But you want having a look after.”

Revamping Audi and VW

His next transfer used to be to Audi, the place he oversaw a branding transformation. Audis have been extensively seen as stable But unremarkable; alternatively, Beneath his management, they become high-performance, luxury Cars, an instance being the 4-wheel-force Quattro, launched in 1980.

From 1993 Mr Piëch labored his engineering magic at VW, boosting the diversity from four marques to 13.

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Getty Images

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The Golf GTI (2017 pic) turned into considered one of VW’s most popular models

However The VW makeover concerned tricky value-slicing: some senior managers had been sacked and body of workers were placed on a shortened working week.

Mr Piëch was once praised for a key innovation: a modular gadget which gave the identical technical options to a number of fashions. It was referred to as the “platform strategy”.

But there were a couple of flops too, such as the VW Phaeton.

Right Through his nine years as CEO, he oversaw VW’s enlargement to bring different high brands Under one roof: Audi, Seat, Skoda, Lamborghini, Porsche and Bentley all changed into part of the VW empire.

He was once VW chairman in 2002-2015 But ultimately fell out with his long-time protege Martin Winterkorn.

It was once a well timed departure, as a result of months later the emissions dishonest scandal erupted. VW used to be discovered to have tampered with technology to fool US exhaust emissions regulators. The “dieselgate” scandal has value VW about $30bn up to now.

The Porsche and Piëch families still run the Porsche Automobile firm, which has a 52.2% vote casting stake in VW.

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