Capital: € 37 billion
Age: 82
Born: 04/17/1937
Died: 05.08.2019
Country of origin: Austria
Source of wealth: Entrepreneurs
Last updated: 2022

Short introduction

Ferdinand Karl Piëch (born April 17, 1937, Vienna – August 25, 2019, Rosenheim, Germany) – Austrian-German automobile manufacturer; Entrepreneur, designer, manager and majority shareholder. Chairman of the supervisory boards of Volkswagen AG (2002-2015) and MAN (2007-2015). A member of the Porsche automotive dynasty (direct grandson of the dynasty founder Ferdinand Porsche) – had Austrian citizenship.

Early life

He was the third child in the family of lawyer Anton Piëch (1894-1952) and his wife Louise Porsche (1904-1999). His father managed the Volkswagen plants in Wolfsburg during the Second World War. Mother was the daughter of a well-known car designer and entrepreneur Ferdinand Porsche. Ferdinand Piëch therefore refers to the “female” branch of the descendants of one of the pioneers of the auto industry.

In 1962 he graduated from the Technical University in Zurich, the diploma thesis was dedicated to the design of the engines of Formula 1 cars; Piëch is a doctor of engineering Honoris causa.

Piëch’s undisputed business success includes the development of the Volkswagen Group, which he achieved thanks to his offensive strategy. In 2009 he signed a contract to merge Porsche and Volkswagen.

Career

In 1963 Ferdinand got a job as an engineer at Porsche in Stuttgart with his uncle. He then became technical director. In 1968, Ferdinand spent two thirds of the Porsche Group’s annual budget on the construction of 25 Porsche 917 motorsport vehicles, which were designed under his supervision. This number was necessary to take part in the 24-hour race in Le Mans. The family was extremely unhappy with Ferdinand’s budgetary move. If a car broke down, the company would be on the verge of bankruptcy. However, the Porsche 917 was an absolute success and won the legendary auto marathon.

Ferdinand started working at Audi in 1972, where he rose to the top of the career ladder and became CEO. At that time, Audi was producing mid-range cars. However, Ferdinand managed to turn the company into a premium car manufacturer during his work. He actively pursued a policy of introducing various technological innovations – the installation of 5-cylinder engines, Quattro all-wheel systems, lightweight aluminum body parts and other innovations. In 2011, Audi overtook Mercedes-Benz in the worldwide car sales of premium vehicles for the first time since it was founded.

In 1993 Ferdinand took over the management of Volkswagen. At that time, the company was in poor shape, posting an unprecedented annual loss of over 1 billion euros. Ferdinand immediately decided to lay off almost all of the leadership, while not reducing the simple workers. Due to continued work in various directions, the company’s net profit in 2002 was EUR 2.6 billion.

Overall, Volkswagen’s market value increased 15-fold in 22 years. Under Piëch, Volkswagen entered the luxury car industry during its activities (in 1998 the company acquired Bugatti, Bentley and Lamborghini). As of 2012, the group controlled 12 brands, including manufacturers of trucks and buses, MAN, Scania, Ducati motorcycles and others.

Career highlights

Leaving the Volkswagen Supervisory Board – Piëch has always been very demanding of his employees and this was also the reason for the dismissal of many of them. His next victim was his own candidate, Martin Winterkorn, CEO. The reasons why Piëch refused Winterkorn were not disclosed. Piëch, however, underestimated his protege. He managed to win the love and support of most of the employees, members of the supervisory board and even the government of Lower Saxony, in Wolfsburg – the capital of Volkswagen. All five other members of the Supervisory Board voted on April 25, 2015 against Piëch’s request to remove Winterkorn. Piëch and his wife Ursula left the group’s supervisory board. The stock exchange reacted to Piëch’s departure by increasing the share price by 5%.

Since 1984 Ferdinand Piëch was married in a second marriage to Ursula Piëch (* 1956), a former governess of the family. The family has lived in Salzburg since 2002. They have three children together. Piëch has a total of twelve children from previous marriages and relationships. He liked Far Eastern culture and Japanese ethics and was an experienced sailor.

His main awards

2011 “Man of the Year” – according to the American magazine “Automobile Magazine”;
2011 – Title “The most important manager since 1971” (“Manager Magazin”, Germany)
2002 – a medal from William Exner, fund of the same name (Austria);
1999 – “20th Century Automotive Manager” (Global Automotive Elections Foundation, USA).

Famous quotes

“I’m at a distance from Winterkorn”
“Volkswagen was a cancer patient who had given up on himself.”
“I’ll only guillotine when I’m sure who it was.”
“I am the chairman of the supervisory board of Volkswagen AG, I am not the savior of Porsche.”
“I was always of the opinion that you could live with the VW law.”

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