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‘My desire for harmony is limited’

8 months ago

Writer:

Peter Robinson | Journalist

Date:

11 February 2022

Meeting royalty couldn’t be this intimidating. I’m beginning to wonder if anyone who works for Ferdinand Piëch has ever had a beer with the bloke. Here at the 1998 Geneva show, it seems everybody is terrified of the formidable Volkswagen chairman. Talk about tugging the forelock.

The battery of minders, officially labelled personal assistants, two secretaries and a constantly shifting number of public relations persons, all seem to be in a perpetual state of apprehension, desperately attempting to smooth the way for a man who is, by a distance, the most fascinating in the motor industry today.

We’ve been told ‘five minutes’, but that was 10 minutes ago. Finally, 15 minutes after our allotted time, someone plucks up the courage to gently tap on the door of Piëch’s makeshift office to see if the previous interview is over. Eventually, after they’ve agreed that we still get our allocated 30 minutes, I’m shown in. As we shake hands across a smiled greeting, it’s clear he has no memory of our previous interviews or the meal we shared (with a few other journalists) at the launch of the Audi V8 in 1988. 

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