Who is Tom Zhu? Tesla now has a new No.2 after Elon Musk. And he's Chinese

In yet another example of how much importance Tesla attaches to the Chinese automobile market, it recently promoted its country chief Tom Zhu to look after its US assembly plants and sales operations in North America and Europe. Zhu's official designation as Vice President for Greater China operations, however, has not yet changed.

By: HT Auto Desk
| Updated on: 03 Jan 2023, 16:55 PM
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File photo used for representational purpose. (REUTERS)
File photo used for representational purpose.

News agency Reuters reported, citing internal positing of reporting lines, that Zhu has been given new responsibilities which effectively makes him the highest-profile executive in Tesla, apart from CEO Elon Musk himself. He will oversee deliveries in all of Tesla's major markets - North America, Europe as well as China, which is extremely crucial as the US-based electric vehicle (EV) giant looks to scale up production as well as deliveries. It is further reported that Troy Jones - the VP for sales and service in North America - will remain with his reporting shifting from Musk to Zhu.

File photo: Tesla China chief Tom Zhu speaks at a delivery ceremony for China-made Tesla Model 3 vehicles in the Shanghai Gigafactory. (REUTERS)
File photo: Tesla China chief Tom Zhu speaks at a delivery ceremony for China-made Tesla Model 3 vehicles in the Shanghai Gigafactory. (REUTERS)

Zhu is not exactly new to the operations aspect of North America and Reuters reports he has been previously called upon to check and fix production-related issues at Tesla's US plants. He has also been credited for having returned Tesla Shanghai factory to full production force post Covid-related restrictions. He is believed to have been initially hired for expanding the Supercharger network for Tesla across China but was since given broader and much more prominent roles. It is under him that Tesla established the Shanghai plant which now not only manufacturers EVs for the local market but for select European markets as well. Some feel that having received his higher education in the US will help Zhu manage an all-American workforce well.

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At a time when investors have been nervy about Musk focusing big time on Twitter - many fear this ‘distraction’ may cost Tesla dearly, Zhu's promotion could possibly calm ruffled nerves.

Tesla has managed to deliver record 405,278 units in the last quarter and while this may seem an impressive number, it falls below previous estimates. It has also been offering discounts on many of its models in China where it wants to extend its dominance despite local manufacturers playing catch up and the company itself facing questions related to safety concerns.

First Published Date: 03 Jan 2023, 16:48 PM IST
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