Volkswagen AG, the second largest automaker in the world and the biggest in Europe, has recently spiraled down into a full-blown leadership crisis, with the chief executive officer pledging to not go down without a fight.
The company’s chairman Ferdinand Piech, who told German magazine Der Spiegel he was not giving his support to the executive anymore, recently publicly panned Martin Winterkorn, the chief executive officer of the group. Now the latter has vowed to try and protect his job. The public declaration on Piech’s behalf showed an unusual clash between the leaders of the carmaker, with Piech, who has been controlling VW for the past 22 years – nine of them as chief executive – declaring he has “distanced” himself from the current CEO. The open panning is treated by analysts as a signal that Winterkorn has lost the chance of having his contract renewed when it expires in December 2016 and also lose the battle if he wanted to succeed Piech as chairman.
Additionally, yesterday a high-ranking Volkswagen AG panel held a discussion in an attempt to diplomatically end the leadership crisis. It appears the meeting was not long – not even three hours – and VW has announced its results will not be made public. The meeting was held in Salzburg, where Piech lives and is also the home of the Porsche family, which has a controlling stake in the automaker. It also appears that Winterkorn was also part of the supervisory board steering panel, which is known to direct the full board – the latter being the one entitled to name and fire executives.