The tension and potential shakeup at the Volkswagen Group has culminated in the resignation of longtime board chairman Ferdinand Piech.
Piech’s resignation as chair of the supervisory board happened suddenly Saturday, according to Reuters, following weeks of turmoil in the top ranks of the German automaker and open disagreement with CEO Martin Winterkorn.
Piech, a grandson of Ferdinand Porsche, was named chairman and CEO of the VW Group in 1993. The Porsche holding group owns slightly more than 50 percent of VW, and Piech in turn owns about 10 percent of Porsche. He is credited with giving the go-ahead to iconic products such as the Audi Quattro, Bugatti Veyron and VW Phaeton, as well as pushing VW Group to be in the running for world’s largest automaker.
Earlier this month, Piech openly stated he was losing confidence in CEO Winterkorn over tumbling profits and the VW brand’s stagnant sales in the U.S., leading to rumors one would resign. Deputy Chairman Berthold Huber is the interim chairman until the board elects a new leader.