Exclusive: After Musk, Tesla moves high-profile executive to China

  • Move makes Zhu an effective deputy to Musk
  • Investors call for deep executive team, Musk focus
  • Chinese-born Zhu holds a New Zealand passport
  • Zhu joined Tesla in 2014

Jan 3 (Reuters) – Tesla Inc’s (TSLA.O) China chief Tom Zhu has been asked to directly oversee the electric carmaker’s US assembly plants as well as sales operations in North America and Europe, according to an internal posting of reporting lines. promoted to. Reviewed by Reuters.

Tesla’s posting showed that Zhu’s position as vice president of Greater China had not changed and he retained his responsibilities as Tesla’s most senior executive for sales in the rest of Asia as of Tuesday.

The move makes Zhu the highest-profile executive at Tesla after Chief Executive Elon Musk, with direct oversight over the operations of all of its major markets and its major production centers.

Reporting lines to Zhu will keep Tesla’s vehicle design and development — both areas where Musk has been heavily involved — separate while creating an apparent deputy for Musk on the more near-term challenges of managing global sales and output.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Reuters reviewed the organizational chart that was posted internally by Tesla and confirmed the changes with two people who had seen it. He asked not to be named because he was not authorized to discuss the matter.

Zhu and a team of his reports were brought in by Tesla late last year to troubleshoot production issues in the United States, raising an expectation among his colleagues that he was being groomed for a bigger role. was going.

Zhu’s appointment to the global role comes at a time when Musk has been distracted by Twitter and Tesla acquisitions, with analysts and investors urging action that would deepen the senior executive bench and allow him to focus on Tesla. Will give

Under Zhu, Tesla’s Shanghai plant made a strong comeback from the COVID lockdown in China.

Tesla said on Monday it delivered 405,278 vehicles in the fourth quarter, well below Wall Street estimates, according to data compiled by Refinitiv.

The company had delivered 308,600 vehicles during the same period a year ago.

Tesla managers reporting to Zhu include: Jason Shawhan, director of manufacturing at the Gigafactory in Texas; Hrishikesh Sagar, senior director of manufacturing at Tesla’s Fremont factory; Joe Ward, Vice President in charge of Europe, Middle East and Africa; And Troy Jones, vice president of sales and service for North America, according to a Tesla notice on the reporting lines reviewed by Reuters.

The notice showed that Tesla country managers in China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand continued to report to Zhu.

Zhu does not have a direct report to Tesla’s still-ramping Berlin plant, but a person with knowledge of the matter said responsibility for that operation would come with a reporting line to the Amsterdam-based ward. Ward could not immediately be reached for comment.

Zhu, who was born in China but now holds a New Zealand passport, joined Tesla in 2014. Prior to that he was a project manager at a company founded by his MBA classmates at Duke University, advising Chinese contractors working on infrastructure projects in Africa.

During Shanghai’s two-month COVID lockdown, Zhu was among the first batch of workers to sleep at the factory as they sought to keep it running, people who worked with him have said.

Zhu, a no-fuss manager who sports a buzz cut, favors a Tesla-branded fleece jacket and lives in a government-subsidized apartment a 10-minute drive from the Shanghai Gigafactory. It was not immediately clear whether he would move on after the promotion.

He is taking charge of Tesla’s main production centers at a time when the company is preparing to launch the Cybertruck and a new version of its Model 3 sedan. Tesla has also said it is developing a cheaper electric vehicle, but has not given details on that plan.

When Tesla posted a photo on Twitter last month to celebrate its Austin, Texas, plant hitting a production milestone for its Model Y, Zhu was one of hundreds of workers smiling on the factory floor.

Allen Wang, who was promoted to vice president in charge of sales in China in July, was last month listed as the legal representative for operations in registration papers filed with Chinese regulators in a change by the company.

Tesla board member James Murdoch said in November the company had recently identified a potential successor to Musk, without naming the person. Murdoch did not respond to a request for comment.

Electrek previously reported that Zhu will be responsible for US sales, distribution and service.

Reporting by Zhang Yan in Shanghai and Hyunjoo Jin in Seoul; Written by Kevin Krolicki; Editing by Stephen Coates

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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