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Old 28th April 2015, 11:04   #16
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Default Re: Winterkorn vs Piech: Discord in VWs leadership. EDIT: Piech resigns!

Ferdinand Karl Piech' stubborn character has given us a lot of brilliantly engineered cars. The very very underrated Phaeton and the mega Veyron comes to mind. And he also brought many great brands to VW.

Don't miss this article by TG' Paul Horrell.

Why Piech's departure matters
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Old 28th April 2015, 16:54   #17
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Default Re: Winterkorn vs Piech: Discord in VWs leadership. EDIT: Piech resigns!

Piech' was also stern about not joining F1. Maybe under the new leadership we can see them getting into the pinnacle of motorsport.
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Old 15th June 2015, 14:21   #18
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Default Re: Winterkorn vs Piech: Discord in VWs leadership. EDIT: Piech resigns!

VW Group is speculated to be revamped into four holding companies.

The high costs of the German factories in VW's core business is an area with the biggest need for reform.

Volkswagen's corporate structure will be reorganized into a decentralized system with four holding companies.

Former BMW manager Herbert Diess will be in charge of the holding company that will include the VW, Skoda and Seat passenger car brands
The Audi, Lamborghini and Ducati brands will form another holding company
Porsche, Bentley and Bugatti will be grouped together in a single unit
and VW Commercial vehicles will form another division with the Scania and MAN heavy truck brands

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Old 4th September 2015, 17:12   #19
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Default Re: Winterkorn vs Piech: Discord in VWs leadership. EDIT: Piech resigns!

Piech gets his way by blocking Winterkorn as his successor.

VW's unassuming CFO emerges from boardroom wars as chairman - Austrian Hans Dieter Poetsch, Volkswagen Group's finance chief, faces a massive task in his future role as chairman - to maintain the support of the often divided stakeholders while improving the carmaker's profitability.

Poetsch, 64, who has been VW's chief financial officer for 13 years, was chosen as chairman on Thursday because he is seen as a relatively neutral and unthreatening figure.

Ferdinand Piech looks to have prevailed in the end. The former Volkswagen patriarch sparked a showdown with CEO Martin Winterkorn in April with the aim of preventing his former protege from succeeding him as chairman.

Instead it was Piech, 78, who resigned and Winterkorn seemed to emerge as the undisputed victor. But now the tables have turned. After Thursday’s decision to nominate Hans Dieter Poetsch, VW’s highly respected finance chief, as the automaker's next chairman, the balance of power has shifted.

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Old 4th September 2015, 19:31   #20
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Default Re: Winterkorn vs Piech: Discord in VWs leadership. EDIT: Piech resigns!

Originally Posted by volkman10 View Post
Piech gets his way by blocking Winterkorn as his successor.
This is actually positive news, and for those interested in knowing more I can explain why. In his core knowledge, Winterkorn has always been a metallurgist. He was brought in at a time when VW was a sinking enterprise and he strengthened its foundations pretty quickly. The reason is the approval of MQB (Modularer Querbaukasten) or Modular Transverse Matrix method of manufacturing. This means that all the sub-brands of the VW Group like VW, Skoda, Audi, Seat etc would share platform i.e underpinnings across many models. Typically among these brands there are 2 types of drive-shafts i.e the front wheel drive and the Quattro or 4 wheel drive. Quattro is a classification used by Audi only, in this the driveshaft is sent to all 4 wheels to transmit the torque from the engine. This requires a wider and taller centre floor hump in the rear because of the amount of components to be packed underneath. Now due to certain front-wheel drive models of other sub-brands sharing the platform they too have a similar floor hump whereas typical front wheel drives have a much narrower, shorter floor hump since the transmission of torque is only to the front wheels.

Anyone can argue that for a mass-carmaker, cutting cost of production and as a result, competitive pricing is very important & that is true. The MQB is one of the most important reasons why VW came out of the red and straight into competition with Toyota & GM. To start with the concept was great too, the only fixed points were the engine position & distance from the front axle to the pedal unit. The rest of the aspects could be lengthened to suit models from smaller cars (VW Golf/Audi A3) all the way to larger cars (Skoda Yeti/Audi Q3/A4). It has to be noted that platforms are divided into further A-B-C-D ranges as per size.

The sharing also increasingly turned to parts and trim as well and this resulted in making cheaper cars, much better utilization & quicker assembly but the disadvantages were quite obvious. In American & European markets many people stated that VW were not as obsessive about quality as before, examples were given about Jetta, Golf & even Audis. Somewhere in this obsession to unify manufacturing and reduce input, the group lost the focus on marketing & customer aspect of the business. Even in the high-end segment Audi's are typically known as 3rd among the big German 3, while extremely luxurious they simply cant match up with a Mercedes in that department. The Quattro system while it has tremendous grip/traction, cannot match a BMW's standard RWD layout in the track simply because of the enormous weight of the transmission & more drivetrain loss. Hence a BMW mostly always demolishes an Audi on the road.

To end a long post these are just some of the reasons why I think VW were losing ground in markets like China & U.S & Mexico as a result of which Ferdinand Piech started this war with Winterkorn. VWAG might be the 3rd largest producer globally but that is never good enough for those who are in charge, plateauing is seen as a time for change & that is happening.

Last edited by dark.knight : 4th September 2015 at 19:47.
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Old 5th September 2015, 22:06   #21
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Excellent analysis, dark knight! Kudos to you! Was a real delight to read.
And totally agreed, the new strategy for Volkswagen AG under Dr. Winterkorn, of which the MQB, MLB, etc are integral parts, has been a complete revolution. The sheer flexibility it allows across segments, body styles, brands and markets, is mind blowing. Not to mention the reduced complexities while developing new cars.
Ulrich Hackenberg, who was in R&D at VW, had once called it a 'strategic weapon'. And a weapon it indeed is. Ask Toyota, GM, etc. who are facing its assault.
And I feel the perfect showcase for it is also a gem of a car, VW's own Passat. The car has come a long way, since the older cars to the B7, which could even park itself! And now the B8 is in fact so good, I think the Passat can now be called the 'quintessential Volkswagen', ahead of both the Beetle and the Golf.

Coming back to the main topic, Dr. Piech was always a very stubborn man, often to the point of being ruthless. You know to what extent, when you see him being called a 'backstabber' in a tribute article (http://www.topgear.com/car-news/insi...arture-matters). And this wasn't the first time he had issues with the CEO, it was a similar case with Dr. Bernd Pischetsreider and Mr. Herbert Demel as well. Don't understand how he wanted to get rid of Dr. Winterkorn though. It almost felt like he held a grudge against Dr. Winterkorn, and by any means wanted to see him out. As for sales in their traditionally weak markets, it is neither Dr. Piech nor Dr. Winterkorn who are responsible for such numbers. It is that Volkswagen's own brand of products doesn't usually gel with the demands of the market.

Anyways, speaking of Dr. Winterkorn, I initially felt confident he was finally the man who could lead VW group to a strong position in the US market. But seems like that was not to be. In fact, sales had dropped considerably under him due to various reasons.

I feel Volkswagen could never really capture the US due to difference in their basic approach. The US market appeared to be more concerned about what they get in a product, while Volkswagen themselves seemed to be more proud about what went behind theirs.
Further, Volkswagen group never really specialised in SUV's or pickups. They did have excellent SUV's like the Touareg or the Audi Q7, but they were bettered by the Americans and Japanese.
Here, I think owning a brand like JLR would have been crucial for VW. Not only would Land Rover have given them strong SUV specialization, but a brand like Jaguar would've also meant more stylish designs in the stable, which they really needed.

And as you mention, recently the extremely high standards of quality would have taken a drop due to the focus for volumes, but the way they were heading still seemed to be the right way. The recent designs were beginning to feel more exciting, and with a set of excellent engines and gearboxes, it appeared that Volkswagen would actually start delivering more appealing cars, and not just mundane but well-built ones. And when the 'number one' crown was so close in sight, the focus on rolling out more cars faster was actually understandable.

They almost always nailed the marketing part though, and even in our Indian ads, they have played the desirability card exceedingly well. If there could ever be an Apple for cars, it could most likely be Volkswagen.

As about Audi, they are usually the more high-tech brand among the big three, and never really seemed to have specialised in driver appeal like BMW, or pure comfort like Mercedes-Benz. Even the R8 for all it's practicality and quality isn't really a handler. Rather, Audi is known to be more of a technology pioneer, and primarily due to none other than Dr. Piech. But as the competition caught up, it became tough for Audi over time.
Another factor behind their recent decline, as mentioned in your post, could possibly be the recent transformation of Mercedes-Benz. They have completely changed their approach, and have begun focusing on design and modern tech, and releasing visibly 'younger' cars. Their design language has undergone smooth transition from sedate to svelte, which is evident in all their new cars including the W222 S-Class. And I've been hearing their newer cars are getting really popular in the USA. And that design language will certainly continue, as the designs would likely give them better image among younger audience, and also a better chance against the likes of Jaguar.

As for Asian and other developing countries, Volkswagen just doesn't have the products that would sell in big numbers in these markets. Neither are Volkswagen the kind of company who would have products that would potentially sell in big numbers in these markets. And I would say it's not Volkswagen who need to adapt to the markets by going out of the way to further save costs and compromise on quality and safety, instead it's the markets who should adapt to better quality but necessarily more expensive products in line with developed countries.

If we think of India specifically, there is a serious appeal for European cars, and big cars in general. Problem is, at the volume end, cost is too big a problem here, or rather being made into too big a problem. Thus, to save a few thousand in taxes, there are 'compact' cars, which are compromises in design and space. Now, there's simply no car Volkswagen could make a successful 'compact car' out of, neither would such a car suit their premium image here. And a full-size car would appear too pricey and under-equipped against the lower-priced rivals. Plus, hi-tech automatics are too expensive for our budget cars, and our people are too conscious about fuel efficiency, service and space, all not the biggest strengths of VW. What are their strengths though, namely safety, build quality, etc are seldom cared about by the people.
And a prestigious company like Volkswagen would much rather preserve and develop a brand, rather than compete among low end models in a small volume market.
The UP!, Volkswagen's latest vision of an affordable small car, just couldn't have worked here.
(Or maybe it could, perhaps in the metros. It could have given our people an idea what world class budget cars are like. And if it were to become a trend, and the new 'cool' small car in the public's eye, we would've had a budget end revolution, with all companies fighting it with their global budget cars in India, not 'Indianised' models.)

Not that any little success here would matter at all to VW anyway, as has been said earlier in the thread. Neither the infrastructure, nor the economy is fit to unleash their global products here. And so is not the people's outlook. They may only start thinking of our market seriously once it matures economically enough to buy enough of their cars.

Last edited by mukul32 : 5th September 2015 at 22:27.
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