The Highest-Profile Executive After Musk Is Tesla’s China Boss

According to an internal posting of reporting lines examined by Reuters, Tom Zhu, the CEO of Tesla Inc. in China, has been promoted to assume direct management of the electric carmaker’s U.S. assembly plants as well as its sales operations in North America and Europe.

The Tesla posting revealed that as of Tuesday, Zhu still held the position of vice president for Greater China and continued to be the company’s top executive responsible for sales in the rest of Asia.

With direct control over deliveries in all of Tesla’s key markets and the operations of its key production hubs, Zhu is now the company’s most visible executive after CEO Elon Musk.

While creating an apparent deputy to Musk for the more immediate challenges of managing global sales and output, Zhu’s reporting lines would maintain the separation of Tesla’s vehicle design and development, both of which areas Musk has been heavily involved in.

A Reuters request for comment received no immediate response from Tesla.

After reviewing the organizational chart that Tesla had internally posted, Reuters verified the modification with two people who had seen it. They requested anonymity because they weren’t allowed to talk about the situation.

When Zhu and a group of his reports were hired by Tesla late last year to investigate problems with American production, his coworkers assumed he was being prepared for a bigger position.

Zhu’s appointment to a global position comes at a time when Tesla analysts and investors have urged action that would deepen the senior executive bench and allow Musk to focus on Tesla. Musk has been sidetracked by his acquisition of Twitter.

Tesla’s Shanghai plant under Zhu successfully recovered from China’s COVID lockdowns.

According to data gathered by Refinitiv, Tesla reported on Monday that it had delivered 405,278 vehicles in the fourth quarter, falling short of Wall Street expectations.

308,600 vehicles had been delivered by the company during the same time last year.

According to the Tesla notice on reporting lines examined by Reuters, the Tesla managers reporting to Zhu are Jason Shawhan, director of manufacturing at the Texas Gigafactory, 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.

The notice stated that Zhu remained the primary point of contact for Tesla’s country managers in China, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand.

Zhu does not report directly to anyone at Tesla’s still-growing Berlin plant, but a source with knowledge of the situation said Ward in Amsterdam would be responsible for that operation. Ward couldn’t be reached right away for comment.

Zhu, a New Zealander citizen who was born in China, started working for Tesla in 2014. Prior to that, he worked as a project manager for a business founded by his Duke University MBA classmates, providing guidance to Chinese contractors engaged in infrastructure projects in Africa.

Zhu was one of the first workers to sleep in the factory during Shanghai’s two-month COVID lockdown as they attempted to keep it operational, according to those who work with him.

Zhu does not report directly to anyone at Tesla’s still-growing Berlin plant, but a source with knowledge of the situation said Ward in Amsterdam would be responsible for that operation. Ward couldn’t be reached right away for comment.

Zhu, a New Zealander citizen who was born in China, started working for Tesla in 2014. Prior to that, he worked as a project manager for a business founded by his Duke University MBA classmates, providing guidance to Chinese contractors engaged in infrastructure projects in Africa.

Zhu was one of the first workers to sleep in the factory during Shanghai’s two-month COVID lockdown as they attempted to keep it operational, according to those who work with him.

In registration papers submitted to Chinese regulators 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.

James Murdoch, a member of the Tesla board, stated in November that the business had recently identified a potential Musk successor without naming the individual. A comment from Murdoch was not forthcoming.

Elecktrek had previously reported that Zhu would be in charge of sales, delivery, and customer service in the United States.

(Adapted from Reuters.com)



Categories: Economy & Finance, Entrepreneurship, HR & Organization, Regulations & Legal, Strategy, Uncategorized

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