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“All I ever wanted to do was build cars”

“All I ever wanted to do was build cars”

One year ago, on August 25, 2019, Prof. Dr. Ferdinand Piëch passed away. On the occasion of the anniversary of his death, Volkswagen commemorates the lifetime accomplishments of the long-standing Chairman of the Board of Management and Supervisory Board.


“As a passionate manager, genius engineer and visionary entrepreneur, Ferdinand Piëch wrote automotive history. Since the 1960s, he played a key role in shaping and driving forward the development of the automobile, industry and Volkswagen’s evolution into a global mobility group. We take a bow to his life’s work.”

Hans Dieter Pötsch,
Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Volkswagen AG

“Ferdinand Piëch was courageous, entrepreneurially determined and technically brilliant. As a young engineer, he turned Porsche into a racing brand through legendary vehicles and the victory in Le Mans. He brought quality and perfection down to the smallest detail to automotive engineering and anchored it deeply within the Volkswagen DNA. I look back on this achievement with gratitude and great respect.” 

Dr. Herbert Diess,
Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG

“The great manager and engineer Ferdinand Piëch repeatedly demonstrated responsibility for the workplaces within the Group. I personally also give him credit for the fact that in 1998 he initiated compensation for the forced laborers of the Volkswagen plant who were still alive at the time. We employee representatives were actually always in agreement with Mr. Piëch at the crucial points. We look back on his life’s work with the greatest respect, esteem and gratitude. With his love of the product, his strategic foresight and his keen sense of the further development of our brands, Ferdinand Piëch played a key role in shaping the success story of our Group.”

Bernd Osterloh,
Chairman of the General and Group Works Council

Steps in a unique career

On April 1, 1963 Ferdinand Piëch, grandson of Ferdinand Porsche, began his career at Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche KG. In 1966, he took over as head of the test department. Under his leadership, the legendary six-cylinder boxer engine of the Porsche 911 was developed to production readiness. In 1968, Piëch was given responsibility for development, before becoming a member of the Board of Management in 1971 with responsibility for technology and external development.

Piëch paid particular attention to the professionalization of the Porsche racing department, which achieved countless international motorsport successes under his leadership. In 1969, he commissioned the construction of the Porsche 917, which is still considered one of the most successful racing sports cars today. The first overall victory of the 917 in Le Mans in 1970 under Piëch’s management marked the beginning of a new era for Porsche.

Due to the transformation of Porsche KG into a stock corporation and the decision that operational management positions would no longer be filled by family members, Piëch left the company in 1972 along with all other family representatives. In the same year Piëch took up his duties at Audi. He brought the company forward technologically with innovations such as the quattro drive and the TDI engine. The aspiration: “Vorsprung durch Technik”. As Chairman of the Board of Management, he shaped Audi into a premium brand from 1988.

In 1993, Piëch became Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG. In 2002 he was elected Chairman of the Supervisory Board.

At the head of the company, Ferdinand Piëch consistently pushed ahead with internationalization. He integrated Bentley, Lamborghini and Bugatti into the group and led the volume brands to international competitiveness through a stringent platform strategy. As Chairman of the Board of Management, he also concluded the compromise on the temporary introduction of the four-day week, which saved thousands of jobs.

In addition, Piëch integrated Scania and MAN into the Group, thus laying the foundations for a globally competitive commercial vehicle supplier. Technically, he and his development teams repeatedly pushed the limits of what was possible: from the world’s first one-liter car to the Bugatti Veyron with 1,001 PS.

In 2015 Ferdinand Piëch resigned from his mandates in the Volkswagen Group. He passed away on August 25, 2019. In an obituary, Piëch is quoted as saying: “All I ever wanted to do was build cars.”

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