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Monday, August 26, 2019

Ferdinand Piëch, Former Volkswagen Group Chairman, Has Died

The iconic Volkswagen Group chairman Ferdinand Piëch died on Sunday, August 25, at age 82, Bloomberg News reported this afternoon. His tenure at VW was marked by the acquisition of Porsche, the rise of Audi's Quattro all-wheel-drive system, and the transformation of Volkswagen from a money-losing company to the pinnacle of the world's auto industry.

Piëch, a grandson of Ferdinand Porsche, trained as an engineer at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and then joined Porsche in 1963, becoming head of R&D five years later and technical director in 1971. The Porsche and Piëch families then agreed that no family member could be an executive at the company, so he moved to Audi and Volkswagen. Piëch was behind the inclusion of Lamborghini, Bentley, Bugatti, and Ducati motorcycles in the VW portfolio.He is credited with coalescing them along with a group of mass-market brands into a formidable automotive power.

But he wielded power in a way that did not always bear fruit. His leadership style amounted to, as the German publication Handelsblatt described it, "the life of a warrior," and although he remained on the company's supervisory board after mandatory retirement at age 65, he fell out with the company in the spring of 2015, just before news of Volkswagen's devastating Dieselgate scandal came to light.

Handelsblatt wrote at the time that he became "something like a grand war memorial that the world looks upon with respect, but also with a sense of loss."

Neither Volkswagen nor Porsche has issued a statement at this time. We will update this story with more details as they become available.

By: Car and Driver

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