The Truth About Cars » piech The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Mon, 28 Jul 2014 15:00:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » piech Blonde Power: Piech Puts Wife In Control Tue, 09 Apr 2013 09:57:25 +0000  

Volkswagen chairman Ferdinand Piech solidifies his and the Piech-Porsche clan’s control of Europe’s largest carmaker by placing his wife in positions of power. A year after taking a seat on Volkswagen’s supervisory board, Ursula Piech will be up for certain election to Audi’s supervisory panel at the annual shareholders’ meeting on May 16, Reuters reports.

Audi is owned by Volkswagen, but its shares are listed separately. According to Reuters, the election “to the board of VW’s biggest profit contributor will be nothing but a formality.”

Ursula Plasser, a trained kindergarten teacher, was hired by Piech as a nanny when he lived and produced two children with Marlene Porsche, the wife of his cousin Gerd Porsche. The children came in addition to five he had from a previous marriage and two “from another connection.” Ursula was buxom, blond and 25. Two years later, she was married to Ferdinand Piech, who was and is twenty years ahead of her.

Provided she does not remarry, Ursula Piech will take over her husband’s interest when he dies. Ferdinand Piech will turn 76 on April 17.

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Gentlemen Prefer Blondes: Ursula Piech Joins Volkswagen Board Fri, 20 Apr 2012 13:19:14 +0000 Last week, Volkswagen Chairman Ferdinand Piech celebrated his 75th birthday. Yesterday, the presents arrived. Volkswagen bought the maker of Piech’s motorcycle, Ducati. Piech’s contract as chairman was extended by 5 years. And a buxom blonde received a seat on the board: Piech’s wife Ursula.

When Piech took over as CEO of Volkswagen in 1992, he was known for his sharp tongue. He also had a reputation as a master swordsman. He mass-produced children. As a student, he maximized output of a short-lived marriage with Corina – the marriage produced 5 children. He then had an affair with the wife of his cousin Gerd Porsche. Although not married, they produced two children. There were two more children, “from another connection.”

1982, Piech is R&D chief at Audi, and someone needs to watch the now 9 children. The Porsche/Piech couple puts an ad in the paper. The 25 year old Ursula Plasser is hired as a nanny. Two years later, Ursula Plasser is Ursula Piech.

Ferdinand and Ursula enlarged the fleet of Piech children by another three for a total of 12. There are rumors that there might be more, also fuelled by Piech’s flippant remarks. Asked how many children he has, he once answered: “About twelve. You never can tell for sure.”

By some accounts, Ursula is 19 years younger than Ferdinand, by others 20. You never can tell for sure. Engineer Piech prepares her as the successor model of the Piech dynasty. Two years ago, the potent patriarch transferred his shares to two trusts. When he dies, Ursula and the children will be the beneficiaries, with Ursula at the helm and now on board at Volkswagen.

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Patriarch Piech Pursues Porsche For Personal Reasons Mon, 23 Jan 2012 16:39:24 +0000

The Porsche-Piëch clan, ca. 1942. Grandfather Ferdinand Porsche, brother Ernst Piëch, sister Louise Piëch and mother Louise Piëch-Porsche. Ferdinand Piëch (nicknamed "Burli") is sitting in the grass on the left.

Volkswagen does not own Porsche yet. For all intents and purposes, however, Porsche is part of Volkswagen. Volkswagen executives give orders from Porsche board seats. Porsche engineers need to consult Volkswagen Group R&D departments. Insular solutions at Porsche require a written permission from Wolfsburg.

“Actually, Piech and his minion, Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn, could leave it at that. The integration of both enterprises has progressed so far, that is does not make a difference whether Porsche morphs into a Volkswagen division, or remains legally independent.


So says Der Spiegel, which says the urge to merge has personal reasons. 74 year old Porsche patriarch Piech wants to join the companies that were started by his grandfather and namesake, Ferdinand Porsche.

In the way are international funds which sued Porsche for billions. Porsche made an offer of a few hundred million Euro, but the funds denied. With the lawsuits ongoing, the risk of buying a company that may have to fork over billions is seen as too high.

Now, Volkswagen’s legal department has developed a solution: Volkswagen could buy the remaining 50.1 percent of the Porsche AG and leave the Porsche Holding behind. The operative business is in the AG. Porsche has a corporate structure that makes a Russian doll look like simplicity. As long as Volkswagen will own “all of Porsche,” nobody will ask which Porsche.

Except the suing investment funds, perhaps.



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Suzuki Soapu Opera: Will They or Won’t They? Piech Faltering? Mon, 19 Sep 2011 17:49:46 +0000


Will they or won’t they? That’s currently the talk amongst Germany’s auto execs. “They” are Volkswagen and Suzuki. And “will” refers to taking over Suzuki against its will. Yesterday, Der Spiegel, reported that Volkswagen is no longer barred from taking over Suzuki if Suzuki cancels its contract. Der Spiegel, of course, heard that from an interested party that telegraphs to Hamamatsu. “Be careful what you wish for.” Nonetheless, the rumor mill is at high revs. Let’s investigate.

Reuters called the usual bank analysts a wire service calls when nobody is talking.

“I think it is rather unlikely that Volkswagen will go for a hostile takeover of Suzuki,” said Christian Breitsprecher, and analyst at Macquarie Research. Commerzbank analyst Daniel Schwarz put it more bluntly: “VW simply won’t be able to take over all of Suzuki against his will.”  Agreed.

A hostile takeover of a Japanese company is a rare incident. A hostile takeover by foreigners is as likely as me getting Japanese citizenship (theoretically possible, but in practicality …) A hostile takeover of a Japanese car company is as probable as hell being occupied by Antarctica. Suzuki probably has taken a mega dose of poison pills, and if push comes to shove, there will be a horde of white samurai that will protect Suzuki from being abducted by gaijin.

In the unlikely event of a successful takeover, a high-ranking contact at an (unrelated) Japanese carmaker put it even more melodramatically:

How could VW successfully take over Suzuki at this point? The entire company is against VW and has embarked on an unprecedented public takedown campaign against VW. No way this will go forward. The immune system of Suzuki will attack and reject the virus.”

Shingi rarenai! (Incredible.)

Indeed, it is hard to believe that the autocratic management style of Volkswagen would succeed in a passive-aggressive environment called  Hamamatsu. In his early days at the helm of Volkswagen, Piech often complained about the “Lehmschicht” , the layer of clay he was unable to dig through at Volkswagen, something that was achieved only decades later, when all the clay was retired. In Hamamatsu, he would face a clay mountain. Just imagine the misunderstandings and things that get lost in translation …

Handy Crib Sheet


“Excuse me?”

“Mouichido itte kuremasuka.”

“Can you say that again?”

Mou sukoshi yukkuri itte onegaishimasu.”

“Please say that again a little more slowly”

“Kaite kudasai.”

“Write it down please!”


“I don’t understand.”

“Ah so.”

“Ach so.”

Meanwhile in Germany, nasty rumors are spreading that Ferdinand Piech, at 74 a teenager compared to the 84 year old Osamu Suzuki, could be faltering. Journalists invited to Volkswagen’s pre-Frankfurt Motor Show press bash, remarked that Piech looked distraught, if not disoriented.

The Financial Times is leading the charge here:

“After a difficult few days for the German carmaking group that saw Mr Piëch’s will thwarted on two fronts – its abortive alliance with Suzuki, and VW’s planned merger with Porsche – he was at an uncharacteristic loss for words. Shielded by his wife Ursula, he deflected most questions with soft, near-monosyllabic responses.”

Piech usually doesn’t say much, but the short remarks coming from his thinning lips usually are high-explosive grenades. He is famous for his soft spoken, but sharp digs. When he is under pressure, he gets even more quiet.

In Volkswagen circles, there sometimes was the remark that the 84 year old Suzuki possibly could require a successor soon, who might be less tough than the Old Man. Let’s hope the nasty journos have it wrong and it’s not Piech who requires a successor.


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Piech Still Has The Hots For Alfa Tue, 01 Mar 2011 17:53:28 +0000

Ferdi Piech is trying his hand at instigating a velvet revolution. He is dangling huge sales increases at Alfa in front of workers and customers, hoping that they string up Marchionne and ask Volkswagen to take over Alfa. Or something along these lines. Anyway, Piech said in Geneva that Volkswagen could nearly quadruple the annual sales of Alfa Romeo, if Fiat would only do the right thing and sell Volkswagen the ailing Alfa brand.

At yesterday’s Group Grope Night,Piech said that in five years, Volkswagen could pump Alfa’s sales up to nearly 400,000 cars, Automotive News [sub] reports.

Sergio Marchionne dismisses these advances by the 74 year old. Marchionne said last month: ” Marchionne handed out some advice while ha was at it: Piech should concentrate on fixing SEAT. Very funny. In the 80s, Volkswagen had to swoop in and rescue SEAT, after SEAT’s partner Fiat ran out of money.

Yesterday evening Piech said he can wait for the right moment to woo Alfa away: “Volkswagen has time.”

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Slow Suzuki Tests Piech’s Patience Fri, 10 Dec 2010 14:28:42 +0000

Uh-oh. Septuagenarian Ferdinand Piech is expressing youthful impatience with octogenarian Osamo Suzuki. Volkswagen’s Chairman of the board “is reportedly irked at the slow progress of his firm’s alliance with Suzuki,” says The Nikkei [sub]. The reason? “A year after Suzuki and Volkswagen agreed on a capital and business tie-up, the track record of their partnership remains devoid of significant accomplishment.”

Volkswagen is urging Suzuki to get on with the show, while Suzuki is dragging its heels. “We did not team up with VW for quick gains,” said a senior Suzuki executive. Piech on the other hand is showing “impatience with what he sees as the glacial pace of progress in their efforts to work out a specific plan for cooperation,” as the Nikkei puts it.

There has been intensive shuttle diplomacy between Wolfsburg and Hamamatsu, which produced exactly nothing. “The time frames in which the automakers are trying to extract benefits from the alliance apparently differ,” says the Nikkei with dry Japanese humor.

VW spent 1.7 billion euro ($2.25 billion) to buy a 19.9 percent stake in Suzuki, and Winterkorn needs to show that there is a ROI if he doesn’t want his head handed to him at the Hauptversammlung, or main shareholder’s meeting next April.

But herein lies the rub: Suzuki received cash when they needed it most, and Volkswagen expects a lot of interest:

  • Volkswagen wants to capitalize on Suzuki’s overwhelming market share in India. VW is nobody in India, while Suzuki owns half the market. One reason for this is Suzuki’s huge presence in India.
  • In China, Suzuki could benefit from Volkswagen’s market dominance. But VW wants Suzuki’s Kei car help to produce the small low-price cars that will be read hot in China’s rural areas.
  • Volkswagen wants to unseat Toyota as #1 carmaker. Together with Suzuki, they could. Alone, no chance. Toyota and GM are having a neck-on-neck race for the top spot (both will probably report more than 8 million cars produced by year’s end) while Volkswagen will probably be a million units behind. Suzuki will end the year well over 2 million.

Suzuki could also use help elsewhere in the world. But their Chairman won’t be asked why he collected $2.25 billion from a bunch of impatient Germans.

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Ferdinand Piech’s Last Will And Testament: Screw You Mon, 20 Sep 2010 12:54:41 +0000

If you are one of the richest car executives of the world, if you have “about twelve children. You never can tell for sure”, if those children are from four different women (I did not say wives), and if you are 73, you slowly start doing some estate planning.  That’s exactly what Ferdinand Piech, Emperor of Volkswagen and Porsche, did. His heirs are livid.

According to a report in the German Focus magazine, the potent patriarch transferred his shares to two trusts, called “Ferdinand Karl Alpha” and “Ferdinand Karl Beta.” As long as Ferdinand is alive, he calls the shots at the trusts.  After Piech has gone to the great design studio in the sky, the shares can only be sold after the managing board and the advisory board of the trust plus at least 9 of the 12 children voted yes. In other words: When hell freezes over.

It is understandable that the heirs are not enthused. Piech thinks that he has “the support of the majority of my heirs.” In his case, that could be 7 out of 12 children. Some are considering taking their dad to court, writes Focus. Especially the children that were born out of wedlock feel slighted: They get less than their more legitimate brothers and sisters. Piech’s current wife and former nanny of his children, Ursula Piech, will receive a central position in the trust. But Piech doesn’t want her to go to other owners either: Should she divorce him, or should she marry after Piech’s death, she’ll lose everything.

PS: The second to last word in the headline is an engineering term …

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Supreme Court Delights Piech And Porsche Tue, 29 Jun 2010 09:45:25 +0000

The NRA, the Pope, Porsche and Piech, all eyes were on the Supreme Court for the last few days: Gun owners watched the Chicago case (right to arm bears upheld.) Accountants and CPAs monitored the treatment of their favorite boondoggle, a.k.a. Sarbanes-Oxley (upheld.) Rome said “oh my God” when they heard that a lawsuit that accuses the Vatican of conspiring with U.S. church officials to cover up sex abuse could proceed. Meanwhile, Germany’s attention, from Zuffenhausen to Wolfsburg, was fixated on Morrison v. National Australia Bank, No. 08-1191.  The Supreme Court seriously frustrated attemps by overseas investors who want to drag non-American companies into American courts. Champagne corks popped at Volkswagen and Porsche. The Guardian: “America’s supreme court has told prospective European claimants to take their claims back to Europe.” So what does that have to do with Porsche?

For all practical intents and purposes, the Anschluss of Porsche with Volkswagen has already been consummated. Volkswagen is putting its boys into Porsche. Piech is already leaking his supposedly most secret product plans. Volkswagen is moving at light speed with people and products, but they are dragging their heels when it comes to finishing the “Integrierter Automobilkonzern” – the final, formal, official subjugation of Porsche. Maybe next year. Maybe later. And why’s that?

Damn lawyers. A group of hedge funds brought suit against Porsche. If they win, it could cost Porsche up to €9b. According to a prospectus for a money raise by Volkswagen, a win in U.S. courts “could even lead to the insolvency of Porsche Automobil Holding SE.” You don’t want to own something that might be liable for more than 10 billion dollars.

With the Supreme Court decision that reversed 40 year old case law, the plaintiffs “will have a much harder time to pursue their case in the U.S.A.,” says Das Manager Managzin. The case of  Hedgies v. Porsche rests on the same paragraphs and case law that was just annihilated by the High Court.

Says the magazine: “The plaintiffs could now base their case on state law instead of federal law. If that doesn’t work out, they would have to bring their case to a German court. The legal hurdles are much higher in Germany than in the U.S.A.” Not only that. The awards are much, much lower in Germany. Bringing a civil suit is risky in Germany: Loser pays all court and legal costs. The higher the damages claimed, the higher the costs. Let’s put it this way: You don’t want to sue Porsche in Stuttgart unless you have a watertight case. And even then, the judge will most likely wag his finger at you and recommend that you settle.

Manager Magazin’s bottom line: “Piech & Co breathe a sigh of relief.” The U.S. Supreme Court did its share for the advancement of an “Integrierter Automobilkonzern.”

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Piech’s Privileged Porsche Plans Fri, 25 Jun 2010 14:17:46 +0000

Germany’s Handelsblatt received  rare access to the usually secretive Porsche patriarch Piech. The Chairman of the Volkswagen Supervisory Board has big plans for his family’s company once Porsche has been assimilated. Here is an excerpt from his list of Porsche Plans:

  • Porsche will get a smaller SUV, below the Cayenne, to compete with the likes of the BMW X5, Mercedes M-Class, but also with some Audi Qs …
  • Then, a planned Volkswagen sports car of unknown type will emerge as a Porsche. Nobody has approved this, but what Piech wants, Piech gets.
  • The hybrid 918 Spyder shall go in series production. If necessary, built by hand, and priced at €500,000. Piech wants it that way.
  • To make sure that Piech gets what he wants, his and Winterkorn’s confidante Michael Müller will definitely head up Porsche.

And what’s holding up an announcement of at least some of the plans? The state of Lower Saxony holds the famous 20 percent in Volkswagen, and Lower Saxony’s Premier Christian Wulff  will most likely be the next  President of Germany. (A job with less power than the Queen of England. The final say-so in Germany rests with the Chancellor, Frau Merkel.) When Wulff is elected on June 30, there will be a vacancy on the board. That will be filled by David McAllister, a good German with a British name. That needs to be papered first. Any grand announcements will not happen until this is done. But what Piech wants, Piech gets.

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Suzuki, Ready To Get Married Sat, 05 Dec 2009 08:37:34 +0000 Hai, chikai masu – Japanese bride in traditional dress. Picture courtesy

Today’s Nikkei [sub] agrees with the TTAC commentariat that Suzuki is overripe for a takeover. “Now that Suzuki has dissolved its joint venture assembly plant with General Motors Co. in Canada, the Japanese automaker, with its long presence in emerging markets and strength in subcompacts, appears an attractive partner for an alliance.”

No kidding. As it has been pointed out by TTAC’s Best & Brightest, Suzuki has what other makers need, and Suzuki needs what other makers have.

Suzuki has India, for starters.

Says the Nikkei: “Suzuki had raced ahead of rivals to kick off local production in such developing countries as India, China and Pakistan. This has driven earnings at the automaker, which today still dominates the Indian market with a 50 percent share. By expanding business in India, the firm’s operating profit in the Asian region overtook its Japanese tally for the first time last fiscal year. “

What does Suzuki need? “The firm faces a growing need to find a partner because of its late start in hybrids, electric vehicles and other environmentally friendly offerings,” says the Nikkei. Greenwashing aside, what Suzuki really needs is size.

With an output of 2.36 million units a year, Suzuki is a tad too small to tough it out with the big boys. Yet, those 2.36 million are more than big enough to make someone like Volkswagen the world’s #1 in an instant. VWs Piech has been long been rumored to be lusting for the attractive Japanese bride.

The Financial Times also weighs in on the matter: “Far more interesting are the advanced negotiations apparently under way between Volkswagen and Suzuki. VW is already Europe’s biggest and is challenging Toyota for the top slot in the world car league. Ferdinand Piëch, VW’s veteran chairman and consummate empire builder, has always said he would like to see the German group controlling 12 brands.”

Muses the FT:

“The deal with the Japanese company would help resolve VW’s Achilles heel. Despite its successes, VW has in recent years struggled to manufacture profitably low-cost small vehicles. Suzuki, by contrast, has long had an impressive record of making small cars profitably and an enviable emerging markets exposure in countries such as India or Indonesia that can only make a partnership even more attractive for VW.”

“In return, the Germans would offer larger car, diesel and electronics expertise and better access to European and US markets to Suzuki. For the Japanese company has struggled to build a strong position in Europe and has had trouble hanging on in the North American market.”

“Mr Piëch would presumably also enjoy undermining some of his biggest rivals by striking a deal with Suzuki. Renault-Nissan, too, is believed to have considered investing in Suzuki and bringing it into its international alliance. “

With whom will the Nipponese beauty walk down the aisle? With the Austro-Teutonic leader of industry with floppy ears and a well-documented appetite for companies and women? Or with the suave French charmer who offers a menage a trois with Renault and Nissan? Stay tuned for the next episode of Nippon Nampa …

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Volkswagen (Production) Über Alles Wed, 11 Nov 2009 17:10:14 +0000 We're number ee!

The Guardian reports that in the first 9 months of 2009, Volkswagen/Porsche made 4.4 million cars whereas Toyota made 4 million. Naturally, the majority of VW’s growth has come from the area which is growing even faster than VW, China. But the lads from the Middle Kingdom weren’t the only modes of growth for Volkswagen. The Wolfsburg warriors were also beneficiaries of European stimulus packages (A.K.A: Cash for Clunkers) where Volkswagen have large market share (Germany, UK, etc). Charity really does begin at home!

However, IHS Global Insight, the company who compiled this data, also gave credit to the other entity who helped Volkswagen’s ascent, namely, Toyota. Because of Toyota’s decision to almost halve global output in the first quarter of 2009 (for all the right reasons) from 2 million to 1.1 million, this put Toyota behind Volkswagen by quite a margin. Christoph Stürmer, a director at IHS Global Insight, said Toyota had “braked extremely hard” at the beginning of 2009. I suppose that makes a change from continuous acceleration.
Even though we still have another quarter to go, Volkswagen seem certain to stay ahead of Toyota and claim the title of “World’s largest carmaker by volume” for 2009. And you know what? This could be a happy ending for everyone. Toyota finally go under the radar & get rid of a title they never wanted and Ferdinand Piech finally achieves his dreams of world domination. As long as all those cars get sold, anyway.

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