Former Volkswagen chief Ferdinand Piëch died Sunday in Bavaria, the company announced. He was 82 years old.
"On behalf of all 660,000 employees, the Supervisory Board and the Management Board express their sincere condolences to the family and pay tribute to Piëch’s great service to Volkswagen, the Group brands, and the development of the automobile as a whole," the company wrote.
Piëch died Sunday night in Bavaria after visiting a restaurant, according to German newspaper Bild. It's unclear how he died, although Bild reported that Piëch was transported to a hospital where he was pronounced dead at around 9:45 p.m.
Piëch led VW from 1993-2002 as CEO and was chairman of the VW board from 2002-2015 through many of the automaker's most recent transformative years. Piëch was the grandson of Ferdinand Porsche and started his career as an engineer at Porsche in the 1960s and nearly risked the company's future on the 917 race car, which was controversial at the time. The 917 race cars went on to fame, racking up wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the Can-Am series, vaulting Porsche into racing lore.
Piëch moved over to Audi and eventually became CEO of that automaker.
"Ferdinand Piëch has written automotive history," VW Chairman Hans-Dieter Potsch said in a statement Monday. "Since the 1960s, he has significantly shaped the development of the automobile, pushing forward the entire industry and above all Volkswagen, transforming the company into a global mobility group...With deep respect, we bow to his life's work."
During Piëch's tenure at Audi and VW, he oversaw the development of the Audi Quattro and ran the automaker until 1993, when he took control of the VW Group.
As CEO of VW, Piëch engineered the purchase of Lamborghini and Bentley and turned the automaker into a global powerhouse. During his tenure, Piëch oversaw the maneuver that eventually brought Porsche into the VW fold in 2012, after a failed bid by Porsche to acquire VW.
Piëch stepped down in 2015 several months prior to a series of emissions scandals rocked the company and cost it billions in remediation and penalties.