You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Piech Voices Doubts on Winterkorn as Next Volkswagen Chairman

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 4/11/2015 Alex Nishimoto

A report from German outlet Der Spiegel reveals tensions between Volkswagen Group supervisory board chairman Ferdinand Piech and current Volkswagen Group CEO Martin Winterkorn. The report says Piech has withdrawn his confidence in Winterkorn, who was previously expected to succeed him as chairman.

Research

Piech, who has led VW for the past 22 years, said he has “distanced” himself from Winterkorn. According to Reuters, analysts view the VW Group chief’s remarks as an attempt to undermine Winterkorn’s chances of renewing his contract, which expires in December 2016. Piech’s lack of confidence is also a blow to Winterkorn’s chances of taking the reins as chairman when Piech retires.

Speaking to Der Spiegel, Piech said that his successor won’t be a member of the Porsche-Piech clan, which controls 53.1 percent of Volkswagen Group. He also said his wife, supervisory board member Ursula Piech, is not in contention. The auto giant’s next chairman will be decided prior to Piech stepping down in 2017. He said the right candidates for the chairman and CEO posts are already working for the company, and that both posts must go to engineers. Ferdinand Piech (center) with Martin Winterkorn (Right)© Provided by MotorTrend Ferdinand Piech (center) with Martin Winterkorn (Right)

Reuters reports that Winterkorn has vowed to fight for his job. The CEO and Volkswagen AG board of management chairman, who was ranked number-one on our 2015 Power List, was formerly Piech’s assistant at Audi in 1981. In the years since then, however, the relationship has been strained. Piech is reportedly concerned with the core VW brand, which Winterkorn oversees, and has said the 78-year-old marque needs fixing. In addition, Winterkorn faces opposition from certain supervisory board members due to VW’s slow growth in the U.S. market. The dispute comes as VW plans to cut billions of euros in spending in an effort to increase profitability.

This isn’t the first time Piech has voiced his opinion on his own executive. Reuters reports that in 2009 Piech publicly damaged the reputation of former Porsche CEO Wendelin Wiedeking and CFO Holger Haerter, ahead of both executives’ resignation two months later. Though Piech and others on the supervisory board have expressed their doubts about Winterkorn, there are some that have the executive's back. The state of Lower Saxony, where VW is based, along with the automaker's labor leaders came out in support of Winterkorn on Friday. The state controls a fifth of the company's voting shares, while the labor leaders represent half of the 20-member supervisory board. MotorTrend Image© Provided by MotorTrend MotorTrend Image

Source: Der Spiegel via Automotive News (Subscription required), Reuters

AdChoices
AdChoices

More from Motor Trend

Loading...

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon