Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG, was named ‘Man of the Year 2008’ by a jury of 38 representatives from France’s most eminent media in Paris on Thursday. In the opinion of the jury of the award, organized by ‘Le Journal de l´Automobile’, the Volkswagen Group under Winterkorn’s management was ‘the only automaker to buck the economic crisis.’ Winterkorn’s manager personality had a formative influence on the Group’s success: ‘He has devoted himself to engineering prowess and technology, has shown an uncompromising focus on quality and together with his team has the perfect, far-sighted management style,’ racing driver Jacky Ickx said in his laudation address.
Winterkorn is the second German manager to receive this prestigious French award in its 27-year history. The honor follows yet another record year for the Volkswagen Group. In 2008, the car maker met its targets in terms of unit sales, sales revenue and profit and broke all records in spite of dramatically tougher conditions: sales revenue grew by 4.5 percent to 113.8 billion euros on the back of a 1.3 percent rise in unit sales to 6.3 million vehicles. At 6.3 billion euros, operating profit was up by 3 percent year-on-year. According to the jury, Winterkorn had put the success of the Audi brand on a sound footing during his time as Audi chairman: ‘Despite the difficult environment, the brand with the four rings achieved the 13th record year in a row and broke the symbolic one million mark in 2008. It would be fair to talk about a Winterkorn era at Audi.’
‘Last year, our nine brands debuted over 50 new models, successors and product enhancements. Our success is based on this attractive and environmentally friendly model range. I would like to thank the jury for the tribute they have not only paid me, but also the entire Volkswagen team for their performance,’ Winterkorn said as he accepted the award.