Volkswagen's ex-boss, Ferdinand Piech, has died aged 82

27 August 2019 - 07:51 By AFP Relaxnews
Ferdinand Piech died in hospital after collapsing in a restaurant.
Ferdinand Piech died in hospital after collapsing in a restaurant.
Image: AFP

Volkswagen's powerful ex-chairman, Ferdinand Piech, credited with the carmaker's rise from the brink of bankruptcy to world-leader status, has died aged 82.

“My husband ... died suddenly and unexpectedly on August 25" after a life “marked by a passion for cars and the employees who build them,” his wife, Ursula Piech, said in a brief statement to AFP on Monday, confirming earlier German press reports.

According to the reports, Piech died on Sunday night at a hospital in Rosenheim, Bavaria, after collapsing at a restaurant.

Born in Vienna, Piech led VW from 1993 to 2002, before becoming head of the supervisory board until 2015.

He left amid the so-called “Dieselgate” scandal, when it was discovered the company had fitted millions of cars with devices allowing them to fool exhaust emissions tests.

In 2017, Piech signed a deal to sell most of his stake, about a billion euros (roughly R16,8bn), in VW parent company Porsche SE to other members of the Porsche-Piech family, a motoring dynasty descended from the inventor of the VW Beetle.

Piech reportedly claimed that company chiefs, including then CEO Martin Winterkorn, knew about emissions cheating earlier than they admitted.

Piech was the grandson of Ferdinand Porsche, inventor of the iconic Beetle and founder of luxury sports carmaker Porsche.

It was at Porsche that Piech began his career at the start of the 1960s, switching to Audi, VW's top-of-the-range carmaker, in 1972 and becoming its chairman in 1988, before taking over the VW group five years later.

Reputed as having an autocratic management style, he was referred to as “Mr Volkswagen”.