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Ferdinand Piech, former chairman of Volkswagen, dies

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Ferdinand Piech, former chairman of Volkswagen, dies
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The German auto industry icon Ferdinand Piech died at the age of 82, his wife confirmed in a message sent to AFP from her lawyer.

"My husband... died suddenly and unexpectedly on August 25, 2019," Ursula Piech wrote. She said his life had been "marked by a passion for cars and the employees who build them."

Piech was born in Vienna on April 17, 1937, and is known for transforming Volkswagen, helping the company to expand with his engineering prowess.

The Austrian engineer was chairman and chief executive of the auto company.

"First and foremost I always saw myself as a product person, and relied on gut instinct for market demand. Business and politics never distracted me from the core of our mission: to develop and make attractive cars," Piech wrote in his autobiography.

He was also the grandson of Ferdinand Porsche who founded the Porsche car company and created the Volkswagen "beetle" at the request of the Nazis in 1938.

Piech resigned as chairman of Volkswagen in 2015 amidst a row with the chief executive Martin Winterkorn.

Just months later, an illegal emissions scandal would engulf the company with Winterkorn later resigning after the U.S. government said the car company had used defeat devices to lie about emissions.

He sold most of his shares in Porsche SE in 2017 for almost €1 billion.