Ferdinand Piech, who died on Sunday, Aug. 25, at age 82, was the definition of an automotive titan. His decades atop Volkswagen Group saw the German automaker grow its brands and grow its business into a global empire.
Piech ruled over that empire as equal parts technocrat and autocrat.
An accomplished engineer, he pushed his brands to explore the boundaries of the possible with vehicles such as the W-12-powered Volkswagen Phaeton or the 1,000-hp Bugatti Veyron. But he also regularly threatened the future of any underling who had the misfortune of telling him no.
Piech's autocratic heavy hand was likely a key motivator that drove engineers at Volkswagen and Audi to purposely cheat on emissions tests with their "clean" diesel engines and actively cover up their illicit activity until the company was busted in 2015.