Volkswagen chairman resigns after CEO remarks

Volkswagen chairman and German automotive giant, Ferdinand Piech, has resigned on Saturday after divergent criticism over the company’s CEO erupted with other board members.

The Executive Committee has unanimously determined that in view of the background of the last weeks, the mutual trust necessary for successful cooperation no longer exists.  In addition, Ms. Ursula Piech has resigned with immediate effect from all her Supervisory Board mandates within the Volkswagen Group.

In an interview with German newspaper Der Spiegel released earlier this month, Piech said he was distancing himself from CEO Martin Winterkorn but failed to give any explanation regarding the remark.

Winterkorn, CEO since 2007, got instead wide support from the head of Volkswagen’s employee council, while the governor of the state of Lower Saxony, criticized the public discussion about the company’s leadership. Piech’s cousin, Wolfgang Porsche, said Piech’s comment represented his “private opinion.”

Piech acted as Volkswagen CEO from 1993 to 2002, gaining credit for turning the company around and expanding its global reach with new brands such as Skoda at the lower end of the market and Bentley, Bugatti and Lamborghini at the luxury end. He was also behind the re-creation of the Beetle and the launch of the Phaeton, which stretched Volkswagen’s brand image.

His position as Chairman of the Supervisory Board will be temporarily assumed by the Deputy Chairman Berthold Huber.

The chairman stepped down after Volkswagen’s global sales passed the 10 million mark last year but is still struggling to keep costs down and to gain market share in the US.