Last Updated: December 22, 2023
Richest BusinessRichest Billionaires
Net Worth:
$1 Billion
Apr 17, 1937 - Aug 25, 2019 (82 years old)
Vienna, Austria
Automobile engineer, business executive
💰 Compare Ferdinand Piech's Net Worth

What was Ferdinand Piëch's Net Worth?

Ferdinand Piëch was an Austrian automotive business magnate and engineer who had a net worth of $1 billion at the time of his death in 2019. The grandson of automotive pioneer Ferdinand Porsche, he began his career at Porsche before moving to Audi, where he helped evolve the company thanks to such innovative designs as the Quattro and 100. Later, Piëch served as chairman and CEO of Volkswagen from 1993 to 2002, during which time he turned the company around from near bankruptcy into a massive multinational conglomerate.

$19 Million Bugatti La Voiture Noire

Just a few months before his death, in March 2019, it was revealed that Ferdinand was the buyer of an $18.9 million Bugatti called "La Voiture Noire". The purchase price set the record for most expensive new-car of all time.

BUGATTI LA VOITURE NOIRE (Photo by Daniel Pier/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Early Life and Education

Ferdinand Piëch was born on April 17, 1937 in Vienna, Austria to Louise and lawyer Anton. His maternal grandfather was automotive pioneer Ferdinand Porsche. Piëch was educated at Lyceum Alpinum Zuoz and then ETH Zurich, from which he graduated with a mechanical engineering degree in 1962.


In 1963, Piëch joined Porsche in Stuttgart, Germany. Working there until 1971, he helped develop such significant cars as the Porsche 906, Porsche 911, and Porsche 917. Piëch also oversaw some major changes in design policy, such as moving the position of the driving seat in race cars from left to right to give drivers an advantage on the mostly clockwise-running race tracks. Additionally, he began developing a 16-cylinder engine for the Can-Am series, but never completed it.

Piëch owned 10% of Porsche during his time at the company. However, in 1972, a new policy was established prohibiting any member of the Porsche family from being involved in the management of the company. Because of this, Piëch ended up leaving the company and founding his own small engineering bureau. He then went to work for Audi.


Piëch moved to Ingolstadt in 1972 to work for Audi. He eventually became the company's manager of technological engineering, and was responsible for the concepts of various Audi models over the decades. Notably, Piëch helped design the innovative Audi Quattro, Audi 100, and Audi V8, bringing the company great success and making it competitive with such rivals as BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Before coming to Audi, Piëch had developed a 5-cylinder inline diesel engine for Mercedes-Benz.


In 1993, Piëch became the new chairman and CEO of Volkswagen. He arrived at a time of great turmoil for the company, which was a mere three months away from bankruptcy. Piëch went on to orchestrate a major turnaround for Volkswagen that ultimately evolved the company into a large multinational conglomerate. He oversaw the acquisitions of the luxury automakers Bentley and Lamborghini, as well as the founding of the subsidiary Bugatti, and subsequently integrated them with the Volkswagen, Audi, SEAT, and Škoda brands.

Piëch also led Volkswagen to great success in North America with the introduction of the Volkswagen New Beetle in 1997. Among his other significant cars were the Volkswagen Phaeton luxury car and the Bugatti Veyron, the latter of which was the fastest and most expensive road-legal automobile ever built at the time. Due to company policy, Piëch was required to retire from Volkswagen when he turned 65 in 2002. He went on to serve on the supervisory board until 2015.

Management Style and Controversies

Piëch was infamous for both his rigorous involvement in automotive development and his imperious style of management. He was highly demanding and exacting in his guidelines for projects, and sought to push the bounds of automotive technology. Often described as abrasive and "old-fashioned," he was notorious for constantly firing subordinates and using coercive tactics to achieve his goals. Notably, Piëch engineered the ousting of former Volkswagen CEO Bernd Pischetsrieder and Porsche CEO Wendelin Wiedeking. Wired magazine dubbed him an "autocrat's autocrat," while Bob Lutz called his management style a "reign of terror." The Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal that occurred after Piëch's leadership tenure has been widely regarded as a result of his tyrannical corporate culture.

Personal Life and Death

Reportedly, Piëch had 13 children from multiple women. He was married twice, and lived with his second wife, Ursula, from 1984 until his passing in 2019. Among Piëch's children is son Toni, who founded the electric car manufacturer Piëch Automotive in 2017.

On August 25, 2019, Piëch collapsed while eating dinner with his wife near Rosenheim, Bavaria, Germany. Rushed to the hospital, he was soon pronounced dead at the age of 82. No cause of death was disclosed.

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