Porsche VW Takeover In Historical Context

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
porsche vw takeover in historical context

April 10, 1945. American troops advance towards the Elbe. Russian troops prepare their encirclement of Berlin. WW II will last less than a month. On this day, a man packs up 10 million Reichsmark at the Volkswagenwerk GmbH and heads for Austria. This man is Anton Piech, Chief of Operations at Volkswagen, and Ferdinand Porsche’s son-in-law. Ferdinand Porsche had designed the Volkswagen for Hitler. The 10 million Reichsmark were Volkswagen’s war chest. Piech says he will keep the money from the enemy. Keep he did: The money was used to found Porsche KG. Nobody complained.

Anton Piech had a son. Ferdinand Piech. Born 1937 in Vienna. He studies in Zurich, becomes head of R&D at Porsche in Zuffenhausen. In 1972, the Porsche family decides that all members of the clan must withdraw from Porsche’s management. Piech goes to Audi. 1975, he becomes member of the board. 1988 he becomes head of Audi. 1993, Ferdinand Piech succeeds Carl Hahn as head of Volkswagen. This is unprecedented: Piech, who controls nearly half of an – albeit tiny, compared to Volkswagen – car company, at the same time runs one of the world’s largest car companies. Nobody complains.

Piech is now head of the Supervisory Board of Volkswagen. Martin Winterkorn is VeeDub’s CEO. The strings are definitely pulled by Porsche/Piech, each day tighter. Last weekend, tiny Porsche, a midget in the world of cars, increased their holdings of Volkswagen to 42.6 percent. There is no doubt in anybody’s mind, that soon, in a few weeks possibly, the Porsche clan will have the majority at VW.

The money that was taken from Wolfsburg to Austria at the end of the war, is finally coming back. How did Hitler call it? “Destiny.”

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4 of 14 comments
  • WhatTheHel WhatTheHel on Oct 27, 2008

    Yeah, never mind the profits from the Cayenne. The fact that they've been flogging the same car and fine tuning it for 45 years and still charging a premium for it is a recipe for huge profit right there. It's just like the Jeep Wrangler/TJ/YJ/JK. Imagine the hundreds of millions of r&d saved by just continually tweaking and updating your designs rather than starting from scratch. With the millions of r&d saved I reckon a brand new Wrangler should be about $4000. Take that, Nano!

  • Helius Helius on Oct 27, 2008

    WhatTheHel: Why is "continuous-updating" any worse than starting from scratch every few years? Personally I don't get Porsches. Their looks and options pricing just leave me cold. But I've always admired their ability to be so darned "continuous," for lack of a better word. If the end product from either approach is competitive in the marketplace, and/or if people are willing to pay what Porsche is asking, more power to them. Put another way, if their approach isn't the way to go, wouldn't someone have beaten the pants off of them some time in the past few decades?

  • Bertel Schmitt Bertel Schmitt on Oct 27, 2008

    @Helius: My Japanese wife (we have a little private Axis at home, all that's missing is an Italian cook) reminded me of same.

  • WhatTheHel WhatTheHel on Oct 27, 2008

    helius, I didn't say there was anything WRONG with continuous updating. I was merely pointing out that their huge profits didn't merely roll in on Cayenne sales (which someone had mused earlier). Same point with Wranglers. If they can get a premium price good for them. I don't know, maybe more companies should do the same.