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Porsche and Volkswagen infighting could harm both companies

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The engines are only available in Europe so far, but at least one could be coming Stateside soon

The engines are only available in Europe so far, but at least one could be coming Stateside soon

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The saga that has become the Porsche takeover of the Volkswagen Group faces two new key issues in the coming year, both relating to Audi. Already several high-tension situations have arisen, and bad blood between VW chairman Ferdinand Piëch and Porsche CEO and VW board member Wendelin Wiedeking may be poisoning the two companies' future together, however.

Audi's introduction of a 3.0L TDI diesel for its Q7 SUV is being eyed by Porsche as a prime candidate for inclusion in its Cayenne lineup, but VW Group executives, especially Piëch, stand ready to block any such attempt by the Stuttgart automaker, reports Automotive News Europe. The matter is central to both VW and Porsche's near-term future, but it is being tied up in politics that have arisen from the semi-hostile takeover by Porsche.

As a sampling of the drama, VW's CEO Martin Winterkorn has threatened to resign if Porsche should interfere with VW's day-to-day operations; VW's board has taken pre-emptive measures to prevent against any such interference; and Porsche has been blocked from learning of any information within the VW Group aside from that which is necessary to compile financial statements. And these events span just the past three months. Before that, there were spy scandals, legislative battles and more.

The second challenge facing the VW-Porsche conglomerate is the arrival of the Q5 small SUV/crossover. Porsche is expected to want to include an own-branded version of it in its lineup, but Audi and VW have no interest in doing so, in part because it would require a deep level of technology sharing. Due to the aforementioned moves by VW's board to block acquisition of such information by Porsche, any use of the Q5 platform would necessitate approval by VW's board, which at this point is unlikely.

For Porsche, these blockages in the flow of technology and information from the VW Group to its operations mean that aside from the monetary value of the stock purchased, very little value is to be had. The root cause for Porsche's stock buy-up has long been thought to be the acquisition of exactly this sort of technology so that it could broaden its own operations; it is therefore highly motivated to ensure it can do so. The VW Group appears to be just as highly motivated to prevent that, and therefore the conflict seen today may be little more than a preview of what is to come.

The implication of this fact is that the struggle will continue until one party or the other substantially changes their position, which will almost certainly require the resignation of either Wiedeking or Piëch, says Ferdinand Dudenhoffer, director of the center for automotive research at Germany's University of Gelsenkirchen. At present, there's no clear leader between the two, though Porsche has reportedly launched a campaign to oust Piëch. Whatever the outcome, it's clear that there will be no resolution to the matter until there is a reorganization at the highest levels of the company.
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