Exclusive-Tesla boss in China has been promoted to number two behind Musk


Tom Zhu became Musk’s main collaborator


Investors want a tighter management team


N in China, Zhu has a New Zealand passport


He joined Tesla in 2014

Jan 3 (Reuters) – Tom Zhu, head of Tesla China, has been promoted to take direct oversight of the electric car maker’s assembly plants in the United States as well as head of business operations in North America and Europe , shows an internal message on the group’s organizational chart seen by Reuters.

The message also indicated that Tom Zhu on Tuesday retained his title of group vice president for China and his responsibilities at the head of commercial activities in the rest of Asia.

These changes make him the de facto number two at Tesla behind CEO and co-founder Elon Musk, responsible for overseeing both sales in all of the automaker’s major markets and the activity of major its production site.

The new organization chart also shows that the design and development of vehicles, two areas in which Elon Musk is heavily involved, remain activities quite distinct from other operations, while Tom Zhu seems to be making the right-hand man managing to shorter issues regarding production and sales.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reuters has seen the organizational chart circulated within Tesla and obtained confirmation of these developments through two people who requested anonymity.

Tom Zhu was reassigned last year by Tesla to join a team of collaborators to solve production problems in the United States, which some of his colleagues interpreted as a sign that he was being groomed for more important tasks. .


The expansion of Tom Zhu’s scope of action comes at a time when Elon Musk seems shocked by the recent acquisition of Twitter and his desire to change the shape of the social network, which has led some analysts or Tesla shareholders to request of strengthening manufacturer management. car

Tom Zhu recently managed to vigorously restart activity at the Tesla Shanghai factory following the COVID-19-related lockdowns in China.

The American automaker announced on Monday that it delivered 405,278 vehicles in the fourth quarter, a result that was below Wall Street expectations according to Refinitiv data but significantly higher than the 308,600 deliveries for the same period last year. .

Tesla executives reporting directly to Tom Zhu now include, according to an org chart seen by Reuters: Jason Shawhan, manufacturing manager for the Gigafactory in Texas; Hrushikesh Sagar, manufacturing manager in Fremont, Calif. plant Joe Ward, vice president in charge of Europe, Middle East and Africa; and Troy Jones, vice president of North American sales and service.

Tesla bosses in China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand remain glued to him.

Tom Zhu has no direct responsibility for Tesla’s Berlin factory, a site that is still under development, but according to a person familiar with the matter, that responsibility will be handled through Joe Ward, who based in Amsterdam. He could not immediately be reached for comment.

Tom Zhu was born in China but has a New Zealand passport. He joined Tesla in 2014. Previously, he was a project manager at a company created by fellow students from his MBA at Duke University, advising Chinese subcontractors working on infrastructure projects in Africa.

During Shanghai’s two-month lockdown last spring, he was among the first group of employees to sleep at the Tesla factory in an attempt to keep the site running, aides reported.


A low-key personality with close-cropped hair, Tom Zhu likes to show up wearing Tesla sweatshirts. He lives in a modest apartment 10 minutes by car from the Shanghai Gigafactory. It is not known if his new duties will cause him to move.

He assumes responsibility for Tesla’s major production sites as the automaker prepares to market its Cybertruck pick-up and a new version of its Model 3 sedan. Tesla also announced the development of a cheaper electric car. but without giving details on this project.

Allan Wang, who was promoted in July to vice president of sales in China, has been registered as the legal representative of operations in the country as part of a change registered last month with Chinese authorities.

Tesla chief executive James Murdoch said in November that the automaker had recently identified a potential successor to Elon Musk, without specifying that person’s name. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Expert site Electrek previously reported that Tom Zhu will be responsible for Tesla’s sales and service activities in the United States. (Report Zhang Yan Shanghai and Hyunjoo Jin Soul, written by Kevin Krolicki, French version Bertrand Boucey, said by)

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