Former Volkswagen Group Chairman and CEO, Ferdinand Piëch, has died at the age of 82.
Namesake to his legendary grandfather, Ferdinand Piëch was instrumental in turning Volkswagen into the Goliath it is today, bringing the brand back from the edge of bankruptcy.
Born in Vienna, Austria in 1937, he acquired a degree in mechanical engineering from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. During this time, he spent much of his time developing a thesis around Formula One engine development.
He joined Porsche in 1963 and eventually developed the Porsche 917 that would steer the brand to its first victory at the famous 24 Hours Of Le Mans seven years later.
In 1972, Piëch moved to Audi as the head of technical engineering. Here, he developed the Audi 80 and 100 models and was responsible for the creation of the infamous Group B rally championship-winning Audi Quattro.
Two decades later, Piëch became Chairman of the Board of Management at Volkswagen AG. In this position, he acquired the Lamborghini, Bugatti and Bentley brands, effectively making VW one of the world's largest vehicle manufacturers.
This was an achievement of epic proportions because, when he joined in 1993, VW was just three months away from bankruptcy. Piëch effected VW's turnaround by improving the poor quality of its products, streamlining the manufacturing process and reduced the high production costs of its vehicles.
He also developed the modular platforms used across the firm's various brands, from VW, Seat and Skoda for the commercial passenger car market, to sports cars from Audi and Lamborghini.
Piëch remained on VW's supervisory board after his forced retirement at 65, where he influenced many of the companies strategic decisions until his official resignation in 2015.
Throughout his career, Piëch influenced the development of many significant products, from the Porsche 917 and Audi Quattro race winners to commercial successes such as the VW Golf Mk4 and the VW Phaeton. He also aggressively steered the engineering of the Bugatti Veyron, intending to create a hypercar that was as easy to drive as a Golf.
His foresight and hard work have had an incredibly positive impact on the automotive industry, effectively making the lives of many that much better. His influence is legendary, and the history books are more valuable with his contribution.