Right Hand Man

Right Hand Man

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  • Tesla’s China chief Tom Zhu has been promoted to take direct oversight of Tesla’s US assembly plants as well as sales, service, and deliveries in North America and Europe, according to an internal posting of reporting lines. The Tesla posting showed that Zhu's title of vice president for Greater China had not changed and that he also retained his responsibilities as Tesla's most senior executive for sales in the rest of Asia as of Tuesday.

  • The move makes him the highest-profile executive at Tesla after Chief Executive Elon Musk. Zhu’s appointment comes after months of Musk devoting attention, time, and money, to his latest darling, Twitter. The reporting lines for Zhu would keep Tesla's vehicle design and development – both areas where Musk has been heavily involved – separate while creating an apparent deputy to Musk on the more near-term challenges of managing global sales and output.

Why it matters

Zhu is a rising star within Tesla. He was initially hired to develop the Supercharger network in China, but he quickly took over all responsibility for Tesla in China, and later Asia/Pacific was added to his duties. Under his leadership, Tesla grew significantly in China and built Gigafactory Shanghai, which is a highly productive asset that contributes massively to the company’s bottom line. It looks increasingly likely that Zhu is going to be made president of Tesla Automotive especially as Musk openly states that he would rather not be CEO of anything.


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