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Tesla China boss Zhu becomes the company’s highest-profile executive, second only to Musk, and looks to strengthen global operations.
Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) has promoted its Chinese outlet boss Tom Zhu to the role of the highest-profile executive after Elon Musk. According to reports, Zhu will take direct oversight over the electric vehicle maker’s US assembly plants and sales operations in Europe and North America. Interestingly, the Tesla China chief still retains his former job description and responsibilities at the company. These include the title of vice president of Greater China and the most senior executive for sales throughout the rest of Asia.
Zhu Highest-Profile Executive Appointment Comes amid Musk Twitter Exertions
Zhu’s appointment to the second highest-profile executive global role at Tesla comes when Musk seems distracted by his new Twitter obligations. It also appears to be a response by Tesla to deepen its senior executive hierarchy for better operational and stock focus. The appointment grants Zhu superior management over deliveries in all of Tesla’s major markets and key production hub operations. Zhu’s reporting lines would separate Tesla’s vehicle design and development while deputizing to Musk on global sales and output management. An organizational chart posted internally by Tesla and confirmed by two unnamed inside sources reflected this shakeup.
A host of Tesla managers situated across various regions would start reporting to Zhu following his promotion. These include Jason Shawhan, director of manufacturing at the Gigafactory in Texas, and Joe Ward, vice president of Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Meanwhile, previously-established reporting lines to Zhu, featuring Tesla country managers in China, Japan, and the Australian region, would continue.
Expectations that Zhu was being primed for a more significant role began late last year. At the time, Tesla deployed its China boss and a team of his reports to address production constraints in the United States. According to recent data compiled by Refinitiv, the company delivered 405,278 vehicles during the fourth quarter. Although this figure fell short of the consensus estimate, it is almost 100,000 more deliveries in the year-ago period.
Strong Management Track Record
Under Zhu’s watch in China, Tesla’s Shanghai facility strongly rebounded from Covid lockdowns. During the two-month lockdown, Zhu demonstrated a commendable work ethic and dedication to his role. According to reports, the Tesla China chief began sleeping in the factory to keep operations running.
Zhu’s pragmatic approach to work also extends to his physical presentation and way of life. The Tesla China boss reportedly sports a minimalist appearance and once resided in a government-subsidized apartment close to the Shanghai Gigafactory. Whether or not he will move following his promotion remains unclear.
Born in China, Zhu now holds New Zealand citizenship. The executive is one of several workers recently seen celebrating the Texas plant production milestone. Before joining Tesla in 2014, Zhu worked as a production manager at a company established by his Duke University MBA classmates. While there, he advised Chinese contractors working on infrastructure projects in Africa.