FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Ferdinand Karl Piech, Volkswagen AG’s (VOWG_p.DE) used chairman and chief govt, who remodeled the German company from a struggling midsized carmaker real into a world automotive powerhouse, has died, his wife acknowledged in an announcement.
Piech, 82, who had 13 younger of us by four totally different girls, died on Sunday, his wife Ursula acknowledged.
A just appropriate engineer, Piech turned spherical VW after making a wager on a modular building technique which allowed Audi, Skoda and VW brands to allotment as much as 65% fundamental parts, serving to Volkswagen Community, the enviornment’s supreme carmaker by sales, to attain greater economies of scale.
“The lifetime of Ferdinand Piech turn out to be once fashioned by his passion for automobiles and for the workers that construct them. He remained an fanatic engineer and automobile lover till the cessation,” Ursula Piech acknowledged in the utter.
Below Piech’s management, VW emphasised engineering brilliance earlier than profits, and went on a spread spree, procuring excessive-margin luxury marques Bentley, Bugatti and Lamborghini in a single one year.
“In the initiating I constantly observed myself as a product particular person, and relied on gut instinct for market query of. Enterprise and politics never distracted me from the core of our mission: to make and form lustrous automobiles,” Piech wrote in his autobiography.
For his whole profession Piech took enormous risks with a thought to eclipse his grandfather, Ferdinand Porsche, the father of the iconic Volkswagen Beetle as well to the founder of the sportscar producer which peaceable bears his name.
While working as a 31-one year-extinct improve chief at Porsche in 1968, Piech invested two thirds of Porsche’s annual finances to construct 25 Porsche prototype racecars with an untested 600 horsepower air-cooled 12-cylinder engine create.
Kinfolk accused Piech of misconduct attributable to his threat appetite and willingness to wager the corporate’s finances on a single automobile, nonetheless the Porsche 917 went on to change into one of many most successful racecars in history, cementing his set apart as a visionary engineer.
For the period of his 9-one year tenure as CEO, Piech turned a loss identical of 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) real into a 2.6 billion euro earnings whereas spearheading VW’s’ growth real into a 12-designate empire that involves the Seat, Skoda, Bentley, Audi, Porsche and Ducati brands as well to to the MAN and Scania [SCVSA.UL] truck firms.
“I take into accout Ferdinand Piech as a huge supervisor and engineer,” Volkswagen’s labor chief Bernd Osterloh acknowledged on Tuesday. “With his savor for merchandise, strategic imaginative and prescient, far sightedness and his capability to make our brands he solid the success of our company.”
Piech turn out to be once identified for his capability to outmaneuver opponents by stoking inner rivalries to his possess advantage, even supposing it resulted in backing labor leaders to the detriment of his possess managers.
The angrier he bought, the calmer he spoke, uttering supreme immediate deliberate answers which published supreme a allotment of his opinion.
Some of Piech’s high lieutenants had been prosecuted for securing make stronger for radical restructuring plans by sponsoring lavish work journeys for labor leaders, including visits to brothels.
“It isn’t that you simply might possibly possibly possibly be ready to judge to remove an organization to the high by focusing on the top likely stage of cohesion,” Piech acknowledged in his book.
Governance at VW turn out to be once for a protracted time marked by a cutthroat management style which did not tolerate failure, a prepare that turn out to be once later blamed for causing VW managers to lie about unlawful emissions, fairly than admitting that their automobiles might possibly possibly not meet clean air rules.
The scandal, which Piech turn out to be once not linked to, has attach Volkswagen more than 30 billion euros in court docket cases and fines.
Piech grew to change into Volkswagen’s chief govt in 1993 and chairman in 2002, reviving the VW designate by introducing refined technologies into even little low-attach automobiles, relying on the corporate’s procurement prowess to elevate profits.
VW turn out to be once accused of stealing procurement technology from Traditional Motors below Piech’s stare nonetheless he turn out to be once never charged with a crime.
He also cultivated unconditional loyalty from his high engineers, even whereas infrequently keeping them in the dumb of evening.
While working as improve chief at Audi, Piech determined to cowl the aerodynamic qualities of the Audi 100 from his high team by the utilization of wind tunnels in Hamburg, Stuttgart, Wolfsburg and Turin to make the auto.
He wished to remove the emblem upmarket by touting its aerodynamic qualities, nonetheless turn out to be once insecure that an engineer might possibly possibly defect to a rival with well-known technology.
“I turn out to be once in the heart of all of it, striking together the pieces of the puzzle,” Piech acknowledged in his autobiography.
Piech presented quattro four-wheel pressure technology to Audi, and remodeled it real into a expert competitor to Mercedes-Benz and BMW.
Max Warburton, an analyst at Bernstein Research, described Piech because the architect of VW’s global success.
“His stewardship of VW has been unquestionably successful. Piech will bound down in history as an automotive myth, in the identical class as Gottlieb Daimler, Henry Ford and Kiichiro Toyoda,” Warburton acknowledged in a 2012 say.
Piech, resigned as Volkswagen chairman in April 2015 after falling out at the side of his chief govt Martin Winterkorn. The emissions cheating scandal would erupt supreme months later.
The fourth technology of the Porsche and Piech households now toddle Porsche Automobil Keeping SE (PSHG_p.DE), which controls a 52.2% stake in Volkswagen.
Additional reporting by Jan Schwartz in Hamburg and Ilona Wissenbach; Enhancing by Lisa Shumaker, Tom Brown, Sonya Hepinstall, Susan Fenton