View from City Road: Piech must not pass the buck

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For the second time in just four months, Volkswagen's boss, Ferdinand Piech, has fired the chief executive of one of his subsidiaries. Today it is the turn of Franz-Josef Kortum. Last September, it was Juan Antonio Diaz Alvarez, Seat's head.

Both were held responsible for plunging sales and for losses well above what Mr Piech was prepared to accept, given the VW marque's own miserable performance. In Seat's case Mr Piech's outrage seemed justified. But with Audi, it was Mr Piech himself who was the boss there until the end of 1992, and Mr Piech who handpicked Mr Kortum, who cannot be blamed for the slump in 1993, since he had just arrived.

Audi is a symptom of a wider malaise at VW. Mr Piech will not be able to go on shifting the blame for poor results and unmet pledges of an imminent turnround.