The chief executive of Volkswagen, Martin Winterkorn, has won the backing of the company’s top bosses, following a clash with the chairman.The six-member executive committee of the German carmaker’s supervisory board praised Mr Winterkorn’s “vigour and success” and proposed extending his contract.
The move is seen as a defeat for VW chairman Ferdinand Piech.
He had “distanced himself” from Mr Winterkorn in a recent interview.
Those comments prompted speculation about Mr Winterkorn’s future at the company.
However, Mr Piech, who is a member of the executive committee, was outnumbered by five to one, according to company sources quoted by Reuters.
Mr Winterkorn is “the best possible” chief executive of Volkswagen, according to a statement issued by the committee and had its “full support”.
When Mr Piech made the comments, VW board member Wolfgang Porsche said Mr Piech had given his “personal opinion”.
Mr Piech – who is a former chief executive of the car maker – did not specify the nature of his issue with Mr Winterkorn.
Analysts said that concerns about the profitability of the main Volkswagen brand and a disappointing market share in the United States were possible factors.
Volkswagen sold just over 1.6m vehicles in Europe last year, an increase of 3.9% and far in excess of Ford’s total of almost 962,000.
Mr Piech is the grandson of Beetle inventor Ferdinand Porsche. Together, the Piech and Porsche families control 51% of VW.
Shares in Volkswagen closed down 1.8% at €228.60 in Frankfurt, valuing the company at more than €111bn (£80bn).