Tesla China boss promoted to second highest exec after Musk

Tesla Greater China vice president Tom Zhu has been promoted to oversee the company’s US assembly plants, as well as sales and operations in North America and Europe, according to an internal posting of reporting lines reviewed by Reuters.

This move makes Mr Zhu the second highest-profile executive at Tesla after CEO Elon Musk, who has currently been preoccupied with his acquisition of Twitter.

Reuters reviewed the organisational chart that had been posted internally and confirmed the change with two people who had seen it. They asked to not be named as they weren’t authorised to speak on the matter.

According to the Tesla notice on reporting lines reviewed by Reuters, the Tesla managers reporting to Mr Zhu include:

  • Jason Shawhan, director of manufacturing at the Texas Gigafactory
  • Hrushikesh Sagar, senior director of manufacturing at the Fremont Factory
  • Joe Ward, vice president of Europe, the Middle East and Africa
  • Troy Jones, vice president of North America sales and service

The Tesla posting showed that Mr Zhu’s title of Greater China vice president hadn’t changed and that he also retained his responsibilities as Tesla’s most senior executive for sales in the rest of Asia.

Tesla country managers in China, Japan, New Zealand and Australia continue to report to Mr Zhu too.

Mr Zhu currently doesn’t have a direct report at Tesla’s Berlin Gigafactory, but a person familiar with the matter said responsibility for that operation would come with the reporting line for Mr Ward.

Chinese-born Tom Zhu, who holds a New Zealand passport, began working at Tesla in 2014. He had previously worked as a project manager at Kaibo Engineering Group.

During Shanghai’s two-month COVID lockdown, Mr Zhu was among one of the first batches of employees to begin staying overnight in the factory.

Mr Zhu and a team of his aides were recently brought to the US to troubleshoot production issues in the US, sparking rumours among his colleagues that he was being groomed for a bigger role.

Mr Zhu takes charge of Tesla’s main production hubs at a time when the company is preparing to launch the Cybertruck and an updated version of the Model 3.

Tesla has also said it’s developing a cheaper electric vehicle but has not provided any additional details thus far.

Earlier this week Tesla said it delivered a record-breaking 439,701 electric cars to customers in quarter four of 2022, up 31 per cent over the Q4 figure from 2021.

The company additionally reported calendar-year 2022 deliveries of more than 1.31 million cars, 40 per cent greater than it achieved during 2021.

MORE: Tesla posts all-time record deliveries amid headwinds

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