Ferdinand Piëch has rocked the automotive world by publicly distancing himself from the man many thought would replace him as Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG.

Ferdinand Piëch has rocked the automotive world by publicly distancing himself from the man many thought would replace him as Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG.

In an interview with Germany's Spiegel, Piëch said he has "distanced" himself from Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn.  The executive declined to elaborate but has previously said the company isn't on the right track and he appears he blame Winterkorn for it.

Despite the criticism, Winterkorn appears ready for a fight as sources have said he won't back down and has been emboldened by support from labor groups and the state of Lower Saxony.

It remains unclear how things will pan out but Winterkorn's contract is set to expire at the end of next year.

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