Piëch: ar­chi­tect of Audi’s as­cen­sion

His ge­nius for pow­er­trains and power pol­i­tics made Audi

CAR (UK) - - Car Interactive -

EARLY DAYS Af­ter the fam­ily di­as­pora from Porsche, Fer­di­nand Piëch joins Audi as a de­part­men­tal head in 1972, and sets about prov­ing him­self. An early project is to solve a US emis­sions prob­lem: the 100 can­not pass car­bon monox­ide and hy­dro­car­bon stan­dards. Piëch ne­go­ti­ates a tem­po­rary ex­emp­tion, buy­ing time to „it di­rect fuel in­jec­tion to „ix the is­sue. FIVE‡CYLIN­DER POWER In ’73, Piëch thinks about quit­ting af­ter miss­ing out on pro­mo­tion, but agrees to stay on in case head of de­vel­op­ment Franz Behles doesn’t work out. He doesn’t – be­cause Behles’ at­tempt to cre­ate an eco­nom­i­cal and user-friendly ro­tary en­gine is doomed. In­stead Piëch’s „ive-cylin­der proves su­pe­rior, gets the nod for pro­duc­tion and „inds fame cou­pled with... FOUR‡WHEEL DRIVE You know the tale: chas­sis tester Jörg Bensinger spots the cor­ner­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the Iltis, a mil­i­tary o›-roader Audi is de­vel­op­ing. In se­cret, Piëch has an 80 sa­loon adopt its all-wheel drive, and fel­low ex­ecs are amazed as a pro­to­type con­quers an Alpine track. It’s the birth of qu­at­tro, and the path to pre­mium. TRANS­FOR­MA­TIVE TDI Piëch sees a re„ined, punchy diesel as a bea­con for Audi. TDI – tur­bocharged di­rect in­jec­tion – with com­puter con­trol de­liv­ers an un­usu­ally smooth, eco­nom­i­cal and quick oil­burner in the 100, af­ter 11 years of de­vel­op­ment. ‘This mile­stone gives him a per­sonal stake in diesel tech,’ says diesel­gate au­thor Jack Ewing. THE PATH TO POWER Suc­cess at Audi pro­pels Piëch to VW Group CEO. On his watch, scan­dals rock VW – com­pen­sa­tion to GM over an exec de­fect­ing with in­side info; fund­ing sex for union o¤icials – and then the US emis­sions vi­o­la­tion hits. Piëch’s com­plic­ity is un­proven, but the pres­sure he puts on col­leagues to suc­ceed or face the mu­sic leads to a say­ing at VW: ‘Im­pos­si­ble doesn’t ex­ist’.


Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.