2014 Volkswagen Golf GTI (MkVII) Concept, 2012 Paris Auto Show Enlarge Photo
Last April, Volkswagen Group shareholders granted Ferdinand Piech a third term as chairman of Volkswagen
, ensuring him job security through December of 2016. That also gives the 75-year-old Piech the distinction of being the oldest-ever chairman of a German company.
While Piech will be 79 years and eight months old when his current contract expires, word from Reuters
is that the long time auto executive and grandson of Ferdinand (Ferry) Porsche won’t be retiring any time soon.
Piech told German newspaper Bild am Sonntag
(Pictures on Sunday), “I have asked (Volkswagen CEO) Martin Winterkorn
to launch the next Golf. A new model of the Golf usually comes out every 5-7 years. At least that long I will cover Winterkorn’s back as chairman.”
That leaves Piech at the helm until sometime between 2017 and 2019, which is between one and three years beyond his current contract. Should Piech remain in place until the end of 2019, he’d be 82 years old at the end of his term.
On the plus side, that gives Volkswagen both familiarity and stability, as Piech has so far spent 18 years running Volkswagen, including nine years as CEO. The downside is that Piech isn’t getting younger, and the fact that Volkswagen seems to lack clear succession planning is making some investors nervous.
Making Piech nervous, however, is the ongoing downturn in the European economy
, particularly outside Germany, where Volkswagen’s sales seem to be fairly stable.
In the chairman’s words, “We are worried about regions south of the Alps and west of the river Rhine. You'll hardly notice five percent plus or minus in Germany but will notice two thirds less in Spain.”