Friday, January 27, 2023

VW chairman Karl Hahn fell in love with the seat

last sunday 14 january passed away at the age of 96 carl hahnwhat happened chairman of the volkswagen group, The title of this piece refers to a reality: its Praise for the Spanish company SeatFor his agility when solving compromising situations with very few means. It is clear that if Carl Hahn had not intervened, nothing would have been the same on the seat.

Following its ‘divorce’ from the Fiat group, SEAT’s leaders, then under the auspices of the National Institute of Industry (INI), devoted themselves exclusively to obtaining technical cooperation from other manufacturers. But anticipating that the negotiations might be prolonged, he devoted himself to developing the Fiat technology into his own. These agreements allowed Porsche to build some excellent engines (the so-called System Porsche) based on the 1.2 and 1.4-litre Fiat engines, which could be manufactured with the same machinery as the Italian propellers. or that, to save time, he accepted Giorgio Giugiaro’s offer to use the Golf’s second generation project, adapting it to the Fiat Ritmo platform, surprising the German executive.

Juan José Díaz Ruiz, recently deceased, the then executive vice-president of SEAT, told how Hahn nearly lost his plane’s ‘slot’ to return to Germany on one of his trips to Barcelona, ​​the first of what would be Had fun driving the prototype. first generation ibiza,

Karl Hahn, former chairman of Volkswagen/VW

VW agreement with SEAT

For all this, despite the fact that in 1982 he was appointed CEO of the Volkswagen Group, has decided to sign the agreement with SEAT, Initially to produce the Polo model at the Pamplona factory, and the Passat and Santana at the Barcelona factory, along with models that the Spanish brand kept the Fiat original, the Marbella and the Ronda. These would later be joined by Ibiza. Eight years later, honoring the initial agreement, Volkswagen Group will practically take over the entire capital of the Spanish brand,

What came next was not so good. And it must be mentioned to give importance to Dr. Hahn’s appreciation for the seat. His successor as CEO was Ferdinand Piech, who felt more attracted to Škoda, a Czechoslovak brand (at the time) in which Hahn had bought a small stake, thinking of its potential in Eastern European countries. Pich, perhaps influenced by the German policy of increasing its influence in Central Europe, gave up the seat and turned to it. He clarified this in an interview given at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Wolfsburg. Specifically, he told me: “Buying Seat was the Volkswagen Group’s biggest mistake. And I didn’t get there in time to stop it.”

Karl Hahn, Former Chairman Of Volkswagen/Vw

Carl Hahn with the Beetle / VW

brought the beetle to america

Karl Hahn was the fifth president of the German Federation after it was returned by the British in 1947, which kept its factories at the end of World War II. At the time he was working in the OECD offices in Paris, but was called by Heinz Heinrich Nordhoff, who became the manufacturer’s president in 1954. Five years after learning what the automobile industry was all about, he was sent to the United States, where he faced an impossible mission: sell the Beetle. And it was a success, becoming the car of the ‘Babyboomers’. As Microbus gave the image to ‘Beatnik’.

Appointed a member of the board of directors in 1964, he returned to Germany a year later. Nordhoff wanted him to succeed him, but he died in early 1968. With other endorsements, Kurt Lotz passed him over, while Hahn accepted the Continental presidency, a position he held until 1982, when he returned to Volkswagen to be named president.

Carl Hahn, In 2021

Karl Hahn / VW in 2021

VW’s entry into China

His predecessors, Lotz, Rudolf Leiding and Tony Schmucker, had devoted themselves to taking over other war-ravaged companies, such as Audi-Auto Union and NSU, supported by the good business generated by manufacturing in the United States and Latin America. Especially Brazil. but Hahn demonstrated a more long-term outlookgetting a seat and Taking steps to enter what will become the world’s first market: China, A market that over the years has allowed the German group to become the world’s leading manufacturer.

He was the first chairman of the Volkswagen Group whom its authors knew personally. This was on the occasion of a visit to Madrid, at a time when the German consortium had already taken over 75% of the Spanish brand’s capital.

This was already the description of that final stage of absorption that was being talked about in Madrid. After knowing the place of the meeting, I attended there. I must admit that I was helped by the seat officials who attended the meeting, who introduced me to Dr. Hahn. He was a warm and cordial person with me. He agreed to the interview on one condition: he had to do it in the transporter that was to take him to the airport so as not to miss a ‘slot’ for his return flight (he was to be penalized from the day in Ibiza) in Barcelona. prototype testing). Obviously, I accepted and was pleasantly surprised that he himself asked the driver to extend the journey by a little over half an hour so that we would have time to talk. It is a pleasure to work with such people.

Karl Hahn spent 11 years at the helm of Volkswagen Group, increasing sales from two million units to 3.5 million, including half a million provided by Seat.

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