Ferdinand Piëch, former Member of the Supervisory Board of Porsche AG, died on 25 August 2019 at the age of 82. He was a major influence on the evolution of the German car industry and made Volkswagen a global automotive power adding the Audi, Seat, Skoda, Lamborghini, Porsche and Bentley brands.
The grandson of design engineer Ferdinand Porsche. Louise his mother was the daughter of Ferdinand Porsche, who invented the VW Beetle and initiated the luxury Porsche brand. His father – Anton Piëch – was an Austrian Nazi who ran the home VW Wolfsburg plant during World War Two.
Ferdinand Piëch began his professional career in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen on 1 April 1963 as an employee in the engine testing department at Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche KG. After the successful design of an oil cooler for the Type 904 race car and a 180 PS six-cylinder race engine, Piëch became head of the testing department in 1966. The six-cylinder boxer engine of the Porsche 911 was developed under his control. In 1968, Piëch was appointed Head of Development, before he assumed responsibility for the technology and external development areas in the Executive Board of Porsche KG in 1971. (Ferdinand Alexander Porsche, 911 Designer, Dead at 76, 50 Years of Porsche 917 to be Celebrated at Goodwood)
Piëch led Porsche motor racing department, which achieved countless motorsport successes under his leadership. He had the 917 race car designed in 1969, a car considered to be one of the most successful race cars ever. The first overall victory of the 917 in Le Mans in 1970 was the start of a new era for Porsche.
Due to the battle of millionaires that forcibly made Porsche KG into a stock corporation and the decision that operational management positions should no longer be occupied by family members, he left the company in 1972 like all other family representatives. Ferdinand Piëch joined Audi in the same year. He remained associated with Porsche as a Member of the Supervisory Board from 1981 to 2015. The fight ended in July of 2016.
Porsche’s attempt to take over Volkswagen Group, ironically, ultimately resulted in exactly the opposite with Volkswagen Group swallowing the performance vehicle maker whole when the leveraged funds of the pursuer ran into the brick wall of the Great Recession and margin calls in 2009.
Porsche remains VW’s largest stockholder, though. The Porsche and Piëch families still run the Porsche, which has a 52.2% voting stake in VW. (Porsche Executive Board Acquitted of Criminal Charges on Alleged Stock Manipulation During its failed VW Takeover Bid)