If you were to name some of the most noteworthy executives of the automotive world of the last decade, the list would probably include Ford’s Alan Mulally, Fiat and Chrysler’s Sergio Marchionne, and Toyota’s Akio Toyoda. Another name certainly on the short list would be Volkswagen’s Ferdinand Piech. The 75-year-old executive has served at the top of the 12-brand VW group for a total of 18 years, nine as CEO. Re-elected as chairman of the VW board in April, Piech says he has no intention of leaving before his term expires in December 2016.
Piech is currently the oldest-ever chairman of a publicly-listed German company. Volkswagen Brand CEO Martin Winterkorn, a close associate of Piech’s, is the highest-earning manager among Germany’s 30 largest companies, and his contract runs through the end of 2016.
Although known for some controversial product decisions, under Piech’s reign, including the sale of the up to six-figure Phaeton luxury sedan in the U.S. market, Volkswagen has experienced remarkable growth worldwide and in the U.S. market under Piech and Winterkorn’s tenure, and Volkswagen seems undeterred in its ambition to become the world’s largest automaker by 2018.
In addition to being one of the most prominent brands in Europe, Volkswagen is also dominant in the China and Latin America markets.