While hot hatches and hypercar hybrids caught the attention of everyone at the 2014 Paris Auto Show, senior executives for some of Europe’s major automakers warned all who would listen that potentially stronger greenhouse-gas regs could prove “fatal” to the European auto industry.
Ferdinand Piech, chairman of the Volkswagen Group, repeated his denial of a report last week in the German Handelsblatt newspaper that he would step down for health reasons in the next few months and be replaced by VW CEO Martin Winterkorn. Piech furthermore said that he will at least serve out the full term of his current contract, which runs into 2017, leaving open the possibility that he will continue to run the Volkswagen empire even longer. “I will stay for at least as long as my contract runs,” Piech told reporters at the Frankfurt Motor Show, “I’m feeling good.”
Remember the video of Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn testing the quality of the new Hyundai i30? Thanks to Autobild, we’ve found a companion video from the Frankfurt Show, in which Winterkorn, along with VW Chairman Ferdinand Piech, gives the once-over to the new European-market Honda Civic. According to Autobild, Piech kept his nickname “Fugen-Ferdi” (Gap-Ferdi) relevant by checking the new Civic’s panel gaps. And, in contrast to the Hyundai video, the intelligible portions of Winterkorn’s commentary were less than entirely complimentary. The German magazine reports
A member of the VW entourage says that “(Honda) has had good role models.” But the big boss played down the praise for VW with a smile, and responded generously “they were once a role model for us.”
Note the use of the past tense, then contrast with Winterkorn’s reaction to the Hyundai. In just two videos you can see the balance of automotive power shifting…
VW CEO Martin Winterkorn is a superstitious man. He doesn’t want to add a 13th brand to his (or rather Piech’s) large collection. (Coincidentally, 12 is the number of Piech’s children. More or less. Nobody is quite sure,) “There are some who knock on our door. Some really want to come under our roof as they see we’re on a good path strategically. But we are satisfied with the current line-up,” Winterkorn said to Wirtschaftswoche. Specifically questioned about Volvo or (gasp) Daimler, Winterkorn answered: „There are many who would like to snuggle in VW’s cozy bed. Thank you, not interested.” Instead, he’s re-thinking the line-up of his new acquisitions: “I could imagine a smaller Cayenne derivative. Or a Porsche below the Boxster. This is under discussion.” (Read More…)
Last year, Porsche gave Magna an eight-year contract to build the Cayman and Boxster models from 2012 on. Then Porsche went to Volkswagen. Then Opel came. VW was miffed and said “us or Opel.” When Magna’s Opel deal went poof, VW said Magna can come home, all is forgiven. Apparently not quite. Volkswagen (or Porsche, hard to say these days…) want to use the factories of bankrupt Karmann which Volkswagen had bought and cancelled the contract. Magna cried foul and wanted money.