The German automotive industry has lost a legendary leader: Ferdinand Piëch, who led Volkswagen to global success.

Piëch took over in 1993, the management of VW, as the resident of northern German Wolfsburg car maker made heavy losses.

By 2014, VW sold more than 10 million vehicles per year. The profit amounted to more than 12 billion euros. Piëch had made a name for himself as a sports car engineer at Porsche. He oversaw the design of the winning Porsche 917.

This car won the Le Mans 24 Hour race in 1970 and sales of Porsche increased.

Piëch collapsed in a restaurant on Sunday and died soon afterwards. He was 82 years old and father of 13 children of four women.

His widow Ursula Piëch paid tribute to his engineering talent and said: „Ferdinand’s life was marked by his passion for cars and for the workers who created them.

„Until the end, he was an avid engineer and car lover.“

His strict attention to quality was accompanied by a rigorous style of leadership that some have described as „autocratic“. He was known for the „steel look“ of his blue eyes and his rugged, factual speech.

Under his leadership, VW expanded to Toyota’s main international competitor.

His mother Louise was the daughter of Ferdinand Porsche, who invented the VW Beetle and introduced the luxury brand Porsche. His father Anton Piëch was an Austrian National Socialist and headed the VW plant Wolfsburg in World War II.