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Volkswagen AG Chief Executive Officer Martin Winterkorn's future at the world's second-largest automaker was thrown into question after the chairman signaled he'd lost confidence in his leadership, according to Bloomberg.

The 67-year-old CEO is encountering growing opposition from supervisory board members due to unresolved issues including an ill-fated U.S. sales strategy and a lack of progress developing a low-cost car, Der Spiegel reported.

"I'm keeping myself at a distance from Winterkorn," supervisory board Chairman Ferdinand Piech, 77, told the German magazine in an interview.

The chairman's comments mark a shift in ties following the two executives' decades of work together. Winterkorn's appointment as CEO in 2007 accelerated their transformation of Wolfsburg, Germany-based VW.

Bernd Osterloh, VW's top labor representative and a member of the supervisory board, said in a statement that employees would back keeping Winterkorn as CEO beyond his term's expiration in 2016.

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