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Ferdinand Piech, Volkswagen - Porsche Patriarch and Savior, Dies at 82

Ferdinand Piech, the former CEO of Volkswagen Group and the man credited with “saving” VW, has died. He was 82 years old and had stepped down from the VW board in 2015, shortly before the emissions scandal that threatened to rip the company apart.
Former Volkswagen Group CEO Ferdinand Piech dies aged 82 1 photo
Reports in the local media do not mention a cause of death, but they do say that he collapsed at a restaurant while having dinner with his wife, DW reports. He was rushed to a hospital in Rosenheim, Bavaria, and died there shortly after.

“My husband... died suddenly and unexpectedly on 25 August,” Ursula Piech his wife, said, “[after a life] marked by a passion for cars and the employees who build them.”

Calls to Volkswagen for comment were not immediately answered, as the news of Piech’s passing spread online.

Piech was the grandson of Ferdinand Porsche and started working with cars in the ‘60s, first with Porche and then Audi. He became chairman of Volkswagen in 1993 and, during his tenure (1993-2002), was able to take it from regional carmaker to a global brand, including 12 marques like Bentley, Seat, Ducati, Skoda, Porsche and Audi, and MAN and Scania trucks.

In 2002, internal disputes led to Piech resigning as CEO, but he maintained a position on the company’s advisory board until 2015. He resigned shortly before Dieselgate, which revealed the company’s vehicles polluted more than it was shown in emissions tests, which they were able to trick.

Piech was a controversial figure even among his peers because he would often take wild, unprecedented risks, in addition to being very demanding, specific and unforgiving. His legacy includes groundbreaking cars like Bugatti Veyron, the Audi A2, the New Beetle, Volkswagen Phaeton and Touareg, or Porsche 911. His passion for cars outweighed considerations of profit or even family ties, as he was ready to admit himself.

“First and foremost I always saw myself as a product person, and relied on gut instinct for market demand. Business and politics never distracted me from the core of our mission: to develop and make attractive cars,” Piech wrote in his autobiography. “It is not possible to take a company to the top by focusing on the highest level of harmony.”

That is why harmony is not Piech’s legacy, but an unbridled passion for beautiful cars, to which he was willing to sacrifice anything.


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