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Old August 26th, 2019, 14:21   #1
Matt-98AHU
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Default Ferdinand Piech dies at 82

Reuters report here

The man largely responsible for Audi's 5 cylinder diesels in the 80s, even had a hand in the development of the original TDIs, made the demands of engineers that made the Mk4s what they were, the entire concept of the retro New Beetle, the Touareg, Phaeton and even the Bugatti Veyron were all under his direction. The purchase of Lamborghini, Skoda, Bentley and Bugatti brands were also his decisions.

Most of the models that we enjoy today have a lot to do with how he directed the company in the late 90s and into the 2000s.

Unfortunately, it could be argued that his difficult management style may have also ultimately led to the cheating scandal indirectly. It wasn't orchestrated by him, but making near impossible demands of engineers may have contributed to the culture that decided to cheat the system.

Piech was 82 and has quite the string of crazy engineering in many modern VW/Audi products in his wake.
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Old August 26th, 2019, 15:42   #2
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You can see the integrity in everything he was responsible for- engineering details that would never help sell a new car, but make all of the difference for actually using it under harsh conditions. For example, I think the TDIs are the first diesel vehicle on the market that can operate at 100% duty cycle (e.g. full throttle up a steep grade) in extreme heat without any chance of overheating.


I also appreciate his bold and quirky vision... people talk about the Veryon but things like the V10 Touareg with triple lockers and air suspension or the biTurbo Allroad were just as audacious.
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Old August 26th, 2019, 18:22   #3
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You can see the integrity in everything he was responsible for- engineering details that would never help sell a new car, but make all of the difference for actually using it under harsh conditions. For example, I think the TDIs are the first diesel vehicle on the market that can operate at 100% duty cycle (e.g. full throttle up a steep grade) in extreme heat without any chance of overheating.


I also appreciate his bold and quirky vision... people talk about the Veryon but things like the V10 Touareg with triple lockers and air suspension or the biTurbo Allroad were just as audacious.
The Touareg is definitely underrated as far as real off road capability is concerned. It likely wasn't quite marketed very well towards that end, but it did earn 4x4 of the Year awards from some big off road mags early on. Though I don't think we ever got a Touareg with the front locking diff in this market, the ABS brake-based torque biasing still works surprisingly effectively on them as does their hill descent.

The level of adjustability of that air suspension is pretty nuts, too. From 7.6 or so inches of ground clearance in normal mode all the way to 11.7" in Xtra Off road mode. But when fully jacked up like that, the suspension has very minimal articulation, though it typically can make up for that with just being able to put the power to the ground effectively thanks to the lockers and the ABS traction-assist.

VW really did go all out on the early Touareg and Phaeton. They were largely sales flops here, but the engineering in them is pretty awe-inspiring, if not downright intimidating for those of us who get to service them.

For the last couple of years, I keep joking with the girlfriend that one day I'll have my own personal "Piech collection" of VW branded cars, to include the V10 Touareg (already own), a W8 Passat wagon with manual transmission and a W12 powered Phaeton.

But, that will be when I have more space to store such things and cash to purchase and upkeep them. For now, just having the Touareg more than suffices.

Speaking of the 2.7 biTurbo Allroad. It's kind of amazing to think that the current Allroad uses a 2.0T 4 cylinder that makes about as much horsepower, more torque and at a lower RPM than the 2.7T did. The never-ending march of progress... Just too bad the EA888 family 4 cylinder turbos seem to be even less reliable than the 2.7T...
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Old August 27th, 2019, 04:01   #4
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Yep, sad. He was likely an arrogant ass if you met him in person, but often that is what it takes to move a company out of a bad situation. This may indeed have been a case of flying too close to the sun and getting burned.

What stinks is that they seemed to concentrate on going upscale, almost as a competition with MB, and I feel lost sight of the mere peons down low, who perhaps simply wanted a decent, inexpensive, reliable, entry level car. A "people's car", which is what the company was founded on, and literally named for. Their portfolio likely offers this still to some extent in various markets around the world, but certainly not here, and that portfolio keeps getting truncated even more seemingly weekly. What models are they going to have left for American consumers by 2022? Not that this was Peich's doing, though. But he did say once that he felt the American market was not a high priority one, and had to be convinced that it should be, which resulted in the Moonraker project. Not sure what they found there, but it sure seems like it was a failure to me.
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Old August 27th, 2019, 08:23   #5
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Of limited concern here, perhaps, Piech probably had a bit to do with VW buying into
the Ducati company, too. It is a high tech brand that may have needed a timely boost.
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Old August 27th, 2019, 13:16   #6
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Yep, sad. He was likely an arrogant ass if you met him in person, but often that is what it takes to move a company out of a bad situation. This may indeed have been a case of flying too close to the sun and getting burned.
What stinks is that they seemed to concentrate on going upscale, almost as a competition with MB, and I feel lost sight of the mere peons down low, who perhaps simply wanted a decent, inexpensive, reliable, entry level car. A "people's car", which is what the company was founded on, and literally named for. Their portfolio likely offers this still to some extent in various markets around the world, but certainly not here, and that portfolio keeps getting truncated even more seemingly weekly. What models are they going to have left for American consumers by 2022? Not that this was Peich's doing, though. But he did say once that he felt the American market was not a high priority one, and had to be convinced that it should be, which resulted in the Moonraker project. Not sure what they found there, but it sure seems like it was a failure to me.

That seems to be part of how this market in particular works, too. Seems difficult to attract buyers if you don't offer a lot of bells and whistles. VW did go back and offer a bare bones Jetta, could even be offered with no radio, had the good ol 8V 2.0L and could even be had with rear drum brakes (blech). But, they didn't seem to sell a massive amount of them either because people want or expect more in this market.

When Hyundai and Kia offer cars with a ton of optional features at cheap prices, that's what you have to do to compete. The move upscale with the Touareg and especially the Phaeton may not have been the brightest move, but certainly making well optioned Passats and A platform cars was not a bad idea so long as they also had cheaper trim available as people desired/could afford.

But that's also their problem in our market is they don't sell enough volume to allow one to select individual options. They are packages instead.

But yeah, we're all painfully aware that the North American market has been a low priority, or at least it was under Piech. They were targeting massive increases in sales here prior to dieselgate as Piech has lessened his influence, obviously the scandal blew that up in their face but they did achieve being the #1 by volume automaker on the planet... not that that means much.
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Old September 12th, 2019, 07:10   #7
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I agree with OH. Piech helped push VW away from the people's car into a higher platform, at least in North America. They tried to recover some of that with the NA Jetta and Passat, but then tripped on their own arrogance. I've always thought they could compete better with Toyota in North America if they offered things like the Polo and Up. Bring us new and entry level offerings if you want to grow a dedicated following.
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