You can't call it the end of a career.
Ferdinand Piech will retire at the end of this month as chairman of the management board - the CEO's job - of Volkswagen AG and will join the supervisory board of outside directors.
Although Piech claims that he will be quite happy to sail off into the sunset, it's impossible to believe that he's ready to leave the industry entirely.
He has had quite a career. As the consummate engineer, Piech probably was unmatched by anyone else in the modern automobile industry.
He started with a grandfather named Porsche, who was a legend in his own right. After Piech and several of his cousins realized that they couldn't work at the Porsche company, they left and turned over the reins to a professional manager.
That might have been the end of most careers. But Piech went to Audi and quickly turned that division of VW into a contender in the luxury market. It soon became obvious that his sense of product was as good as the best.
Piech moved from Audi to VW, becoming head of the management board in 1993.
At VW, he immersed the company in a headlong race to expand the group's brands beyond Volkswagen and Audi. Piech leaves behind a diverse powerhouse of brands ranging from Seat and Skoda to Bugatti, Lamborghini and Rolls-Royce/Bentley.
It will be up to his successor to sort out all the brands and make business sense of them. My guess is that Piech would rather create great automobiles than run one of the largest automotive corporations in the world.
While head of VW, he never shied away from controversy, whether personal or business. He lured away GM's purchasing czar, Inaki Lopez, on the very day Lopez was to be named president of GM's North American Operations.
In so doing, Piech embroiled his company in a lengthy and bitter legal fight with GM that eventually led to VW paying GM a $1.1 billion settlement.
But even while controversy swirled around him, Piech never lost sight of what he considered his No. 1 responsibility: to make the best automobiles in the world and continue to improve the market share of the VW group.
There is little question that he's a product genius in a world that doesn't have enough product czars.
Piech's lasting legacy will be his engineering and product prowess. He put VW back in the mainstream of automobile giants and broke a lot of ground.
They'll argue about his fame and his faults for a long time, but they are what make him a legend.