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Former VW Group Chairman Ferdinand Piëch dies at 82

He oversaw the VW Group empire for more than two decades and stopped a hostile Porsche takeover.

Godspeed, Herr Piëch.


Ferdinand Piëch, who oversaw Volkswagen Group for much of the modern era, has died at the age of 82.

News of the former executive's death first broke Monday evening via local German reports. VW Group released a statement on Tuesday confirming Piëch's passing.

"On behalf of all 660,000 employees, the Supervisory Board and the Management Board express their sincere coundolescense to the family and pay tribute to Piëch's great service to Volkswagen, the Group brands, and the development of the automobile as a whole," the statement read.

Current VW Group Chairman Hans-Dieter Pötsch said the late executive has "written automotive history -- as a passionate manager, ingenious engineer and a visionary entrepreneur. Since the 1960s, he has significantly shaped the development of the automobile, pushing forward the entire industry and above all Volkswagen, transforming the company into a global mobility group."

Finally, VW CEO Herbert Diess added, "Above all, Ferdinand Piëch brought quality and perfection down to the last detail in the automotive industry, deeply anchoring it in the Volkswagen DNA. I look with gratitude and great respect at his life's work."

According to a report from German newspaper Bild, via Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the former VW Group Chairman collapsed at a restaurant on Sunday evening during a trip to Upper Bavaria. He was transported to Rosenheim Hospital where he reportedly passed away. What caused Piëch to collapse is unknown and VW's official statement did not mention the executive's cause of death.

Piëch, the son of Ferdinand Porsche's daughter Louise, spent nearly his whole life holding posts within VW Group. His engineering career began at Porsche before then-CEO Ferry Porsche ordered his dismissal along with all other family members from the company. He moved to Audi before heading up VW Group as its CEO from 1993 to 2002. Following his CEO role, he became VW Group chairman and retired from the position in 2015.

Famously, Piëch stopped a hostile takeover of VW by Porsche in 2008. Following former Porsche chairman Wendelin Wiedeking's announcement that he intended to acquire 75% of VW shares during the course of 2009, Piëch swooped in. Combined with fallout from the global financial crisis of 2008, Piëch swayed outside investors, whom Wiedeking had courted, to not fund the takeover. Porsche creditors called in loans and sent Porsche into financial crisis. In the end, it was VW that acquired Porsche.

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Originally published Aug. 26.
Update, Aug. 27: Adds statement from VW Group.