Wolfsburg (AP) - The longtime VW executive and supervisory board chief Ferdinand Piëch is dead. Piëch died at the age of 82 years, as the German Press Agency from well-informed circles was confirmed. Further details were initially unclear. At first the "Bild" newspaper reported about it.

Born in Vienna, Piëch spent many years in the center of power of the VW concern. The former head of Audi was CEO of Volkswagen from 1993 to 2002 and then led the Supervisory Board for a long time - as a key protagonist of the Porsche family and Piëch, the major VW shareholder. His power seemed temporarily unlimited, in 2012 he even hoisted his wife Ursula into the VW board. Piëch was considered a mighty Strippenzieher and kingmaker behind the scenes.

The detailed car enthusiast steered the ever-growing VW empire finally together with the then CEO Martin Winterkorn with a strong hand, before he alienated himself from his life's work. In 2015, he caused a stir with the statement, he was "at a distance" to the then CEO Winterkorn - he finally lost the power struggle and threw in anger.

After the era of alpha manager Piëch and Winterkorn - and especially after the drastic exhaust scandal - there was hardly a stone left on Volkswagen. A "cultural change" was proclaimed by Winterkorn's successor Matthias Müller: less centralism, more responsibility for the individual managers, more internal criticism were the goals. The staff should no longer tremble before a patriarch like Piëch, who was also called "the old man" in Wolfsburg - or by a small shareholder once "father of the gods".