Volkswagen Group chairman, Ferdinand Piech, has resigned from his post as a member of the supervisory board. A statement issued by the German carmaker has stated that the reason for Piech’s sudden departure was that “the mutual trust necessary for successful cooperation no longer exists” within the company.

It is widely believed that the 78-year old Austrian has been ousted as a result of an unsuccessful attempt to wrestle power away from Volkswagen CEO, Martin Winterkorn. A while ago, tensions between the two were highlighted when Piech was quoted by German magazine Der Spiegel as saying that he had “distanced” himself from Winterkorn.

Traditionally, Piech has garnered a reputation for coming out on top in power struggles – as evident in 2008 when Porsche attempted a take over of the German carmaker. Instead, Piech was able to turn things round with Volkswagen taking over Porsche instead.

Hauptversammlung 2013 am 25 April in Hannover

Martin Winterkorn (left) and Ferdinand Piech

Unfortunately for Piech, this is one power struggle that he has failed to win when labour representatives on the supervisory board, along with representatives from the state of Lower Saxony (which owns a 20% share), lined up behind Winterkorn. The move forced Piech to publicly declare his support for the latter or risk calling for his own resignation.

His wife, Ursula Piech, also a member on the board, has resigned with immediate effect following his departure from the company. Piech’s position will now be temporarily occupied by the deputy chairman of the supervisory board, Berthold Huber. Huber will chair both the supervisory board and annual general meeting on May 4 and 5, respectively.

Huber is also expected to cooperate with company officials to determine the next candidate to fill Piech’s shoes. While Piech has relinquished all his mandates as a board member, he, along with his kin, Wolfgang Porsche, maintain a 50.7% stake in the Volkswagen Group.