Professor Ferdinand K. Piëch was Head of Technical Development at AUDI AG from 1975 to 1988, and Chairman of the Board of Management from 1988 to 1992. From 2002 to April 2015 he was Chairman of the Volkswagen AG Supervisory Board.
Born in Vienna, Austria on April 17, 1937 and a grandson of Ferdinand Porsche, Ferdinand Piëch studied mechanical engineering at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, Switzerland. His professional career began in 1963 in the engine testing department of Porsche KG in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen. After exercising various functions, Piëch became Technical Director of Porsche KG in 1971. Among the cars developed under his supervision was the legendary Porsche 917 racing car, which brought Porsche its first overall victory in the Le Mans 24-hour race in 1970.
In 1972 the Porsche family council decided that the company’s executives should no longer include members of the family. In the same year Ferdinand Piëch moved to Audi NSU Auto Union AG, based in Ingolstadt, initially with responsibility for special technical development tasks. He became Head of Technical Development in 1974, and in the following year was appointed a board member of the company.
Piëch gave fresh impetus to Audi’s “Vorsprung durch Technik” slogan and ensured that the brand profile was strengthened and positioned higher: milestones along this path were the five-cylinder engine, tubocharging, the quattro driveline, fully galvanised bodyshells, direct-injection diesel engines (TDI), the first Audi V8, lightweight aluminium construction (ASF, the Audi Space Frame) and such design icons as the quattro Spyder and Avus quattro.
In 1984 Ferdinand Piëch was granted an honorary doctorate in technical sciences – Dr. tech. h. c. – by Vienna Technical University in recognition of his services to automobile construction. He was appointed Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG in 1988, and five years later moved to Volkswagen AG in Wolfsburg, where he performed the same function. From 2002 to 2015 he was Chairman of the Volkswagen AG Supervisory Board and a member of the Supervisory Board of AUDI AG.