China chief Tom Zhu has been promoted to take direct oversight of the electric carmaker’s U.S. assembly plants as well as sales operations in North America and Europe
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Tesla makes China boss Tom Zhu its highest-profile executive after Elon Musk. China chief Tom Zhu has been promoted to take direct oversight of the electric carmaker’s U.S. assembly plants as well as sales operations in North America and Europe. According to the Tesla posting, Zhu’s title of vice president for Greater China had not changed, and he was still Tesla’s most senior executive for sales in the rest of Asia as of Tuesday.
With this move, Zhu becomes Tesla’s highest-profile executive after Chief Executive Elon Musk, with direct oversight of deliveries in all of the company’s major markets and key production hub operations. The reporting lines for Zhu would separate Tesla’s vehicle design and development, both of which Musk has been heavily involved in while creating an apparent deputy to Musk on the more immediate challenges of managing global sales and output.
Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters. Reuters examined an organizational chart posted internally by Tesla and confirmed the change with two people who saw it. They asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to speak on the subject.
Tesla brought in Zhu and a team of his reports late last year to troubleshoot production issues in the United States, raising expectations among his colleagues that he was being groomed for a bigger role. Zhu’s appointment to a global role comes at a time when Musk is distracted by his Twitter acquisition, and Tesla analysts and investors have urged Musk to take action that would deepen the senior executive bench and allow him to focus on Tesla.
Tesla’s Shanghai plant rebounded strongly from Covid lockdowns in China under Zhu’s leadership. According to Refinitiv data, Tesla delivered 405,278 vehicles in the fourth quarter, falling short of Wall Street expectations. In the same period earlier, the company delivered 308,600 vehicles.
According to the Tesla notice on reporting lines reviewed by Reuters, the Tesla managers reporting to Zhu include Jason Shawhan, director of manufacturing at the Gigafactory in Texas; Hrushikesh Sagar, senior director of manufacturing at Tesla’s Fremont factory; Joe Ward, vice president in charge of Europe, the Middle East, and Africa; and Troy Jones, vice president of North America sales and service. According to the notice, Tesla’s country managers in China, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand continued to report to Zhu. Zhu does not have a direct report at Tesla’s still-under-construction Berlin plant, but a person familiar with the situation said responsibility for that operation would come with the reporting line for Ward in Amsterdam. Ward could not be reached for comment right away.
About Tom Zhu
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Zhu, who was born in China but now resides in New Zealand, began working for Tesla in 2014. Previously, he worked as a project manager for a company founded by his MBA classmates at Duke University, advising Chinese contractors on infrastructure projects in Africa. Zhu was among the first batch of employees sleeping in the factory during Shanghai’s two-month Covid lockdown, according to people who work with him.
Zhu has been integral in leading Tesla to many successes in China, including an exponential increase in sales. He helped develop Giga Shanghai, which is now Tesla’s primary export hub. In addition, the Tesla China president worked to establish Service Centers in the country.
When Zhu first joined Tesla in April 2014, he wasn’t the president of the automaker’s brand in China. Rather, he started as the director of Tesla’s Supercharger program in the country. That said, it wasn’t long before he was promoted to the role of Global Vice President and President of China for Tesla.
Zhu, a no-nonsense manager with a buzz cut, wears Tesla-branded fleece jackets and lives in a government-subsidized apartment a 10-minute drive from the Shanghai Gigafactory. It was unclear whether he would relocate following his promotion. He takes over Tesla’s main production hubs at a time when the company is preparing to launch Cybertruck and a redesigned Model 3 sedan. Tesla has also stated that it is working on a lower-cost electric vehicle but has not provided any details.
Zhu was among hundreds of workers smiling on the factory floor when Tesla posted a picture on Twitter last month to celebrate its Austin, Texas, plant reaching a Model Y production milestone. In a change made by the company last month, Allan Wang, who was promoted to vice president in charge of sales in China in July, was listed as the operation’s legal representative in registration papers filed with Chinese regulators.
Tom Zhu ramps Gigafactory Texas operations
Tesla appears to have tapped one of its most talented employees to assist Gigafactory Texas in ramping up operations. According to recent reports, Elon Musk has hired Tesla China’s top executive, Tom Zhu, to help run and optimize Gigafactory Texas. Zhu has a wealth of experience, having overseen the construction and operation of Giga Shanghai.
Tom Zhu has been with Tesla since 2014 when he first joined the company. Zhu assisted the company in expanding its Supercharger network at the time, and earlier this year, reports from China surfaced claiming that the executive had been tasked with overseeing Tesla’s Asia Pacific operations. Zhu and Musk are very similar.
He has previously stated that he does not have a special office in Giga Shanghai. According to local media, the executive temporarily resided at Giga Shanghai during the city’s Covid-19 lockdown earlier this year. Bloomberg News reported that Zhu is at Tesla’s Gigafactory Texas facility, citing sources familiar with the situation. He allegedly brought some of his engineering team from China to oversee the ramp of Gigafactory Texas. Giga Texas is an important facility for Tesla because it is intended to be a production hub for vehicles ranging from the Model Y crossover to the Cybertruck all-electric pickup.
For the time being, it is unknown how long the Tesla China CEO will remain at Gigafactory Texas. It is also unclear whether he will retain his responsibilities at Tesla Asia Pacific, according to the publication’s sources. Representatives from Tesla’s US and China operations have also declined to comment on the matter.
Tesla’s use of Tom Zhu for the Giga Texas ramp could prove to be a highly strategic move. Among Tesla executives, Zhu is widely regarded as one of the best candidates for the Giga Texas ramp. This is partly because Zhu has been tried and tested in Giga Shanghai, which was built quickly and is now the company’s largest factory by vehicle output. For many years, Zhu was Tesla’s CEO in China, the world’s second-largest market for electric vehicles after the United States. The facility produces Tesla Model 3 sedans and Model Y crossovers for both domestic and international markets. Earlier this year, the plant underwent an expansion that increased its capacity to nearly 1 million automobiles per year. Giga Shanghai’s improvements were evident in last month’s results when shipments reached a new high of 100,291 vehicles.
Tesla’s China head Tom Zhu takes over sales in North America
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Tom zhu of China, has taken over responsibility for sales, service, and deliveries in North America, according to the Electrek website, citing sources familiar with the situation. According to the report on the US website dedicated to news on electric transportation and sustainable energy, Zhu’s official title remains vice president in charge of Asia/Pacific.
With this move, Zhu becomes Tesla’s highest-profile executive after CEO Elon Musk, with direct oversight of deliveries in all of the company’s major markets and key production hub operations. The reporting lines for Zhu would separate Tesla’s vehicle design and development – both of which Musk has been heavily involved – while creating an apparent deputy to Musk on the more immediate challenges of managing global sales and output. According to the Tesla posting, Zhu’s title of vice president for Greater China had not changed, and he was still Tesla’s most senior executive for sales in the rest of Asia as of Tuesday.
Tesla did not immediately respond to Reuters’ written requests for comment. Zhu and his team from Shanghai have been visiting Tesla plants in California and Texas, sparking speculation among colleagues that he is being groomed for a larger role at a time when CEO Elon Musk has been focused on his purchase of Twitter, according to Reuters last month.
Tesla Shanghai recovered strongly from this year’s lockdowns under Zhu’s leadership, bringing Tesla closer to its 2022 target of 50% production growth. The automaker reported record fourth-quarter electric vehicle production and deliveries on Monday, but it fell short of Wall Street expectations due to logistics issues, slowing demand, rising interest rates, and recession fears.
Why Elon musk stepped down?
A person may choose to resign from a position of power for a variety of reasons. Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla and SpaceX, likely stepped down as chairman of Tesla due to Securities and Exchange Commission pressure (SEC). Musk was sued by the SEC for making false and misleading statements about taking Tesla private. Furthermore, Musk was charged with fraud after tweeting that he had secured funding to take Tesla private at $420 per share.
Musk has agreed to resign as Tesla’s chairman for three years and pay a $20 million fine. He will remain CEO of Tesla, but he must step down as chairman for at least three years. The purpose of this agreement is to resolve the SEC’s allegations against Musk.