The president of Tesla in China will become number 2 of the Californian manufacturer, according to several American media. A way for Elon Musk to silence critics of his estrangement from brand management?
Let go of the reins a little to restore confidence in Tesla? While the manufacturer has been heavily heckled on the stock market for a year, Elon Musk seems to have decided to delegate within the Californian manufacturer to revive the (cash) machine. According to several American media, the president of Tesla China, Tom Zhu, will take on much greater responsibilities within the group.
According to Electrek, Tom Zhu would have already taken care of sales, services and deliveries across the Atlantic. An internal document consulted by Reuters also announces that the American factories including Fremont, the parent factory of the group, will also be under its responsibility. Reached by BFM Business, Tesla did not comment on this information.
Superchargers at the Shanghai factory
If confirmed, this rise in Tesla’s organization chart makes Tom Zhu the de facto number 2 of the Californian manufacturer, directly linked to Elon Musk. The question of the distribution of roles between Tom Zhu and the billionaire remains to be defined. Elon Musk should keep control of strategy and model design, while Tom Zhu will manage more short-term issues, including overseeing sales in major markets.
Tom Zhu has a global view of the automaker’s business. After an MBA at Duke University (North Carolina), he joined Tesla in 2014 to take care of the Supercharger program, these fast chargers at the center of Tesla’s success. The man who often appears in a sweatshirt on behalf of the electric car brand quickly rose in rank, gradually taking responsibility for the entire Asia-Pacific region. In particular, he oversaw the construction and development of the Shanghai plant, which is now the group’s largest. He also lived there for almost two months this year, with a few employees, to continue to run the machines in full confinement.
Tom Zhu obviously already knows the American factories well too: according to Reuters, he had been commissioned last year to come with a team of collaborators to solve production problems in the United States, which was interpreted by some of his colleagues as a sign that he was being prepared for more important functions.
A consequence of the takeover of Twitter?
The appointment of Tom Zhu could be a way for Elon Musk, by letting go of ballast, to restore confidence in the manufacturer. If Tesla delivered 1.313 million cars last year, up 40% compared to 2021, the manufacturer has missed its target set by 50% and finds itself on Tuesday heckled on the markets. The group’s capitalization has mainly been halved in one year, with the arrival of increasingly competitive models among competitors, but above all following the takeover of Twitter, which has largely occupied Elon Musk in recent months.
Tom Zhu’s appointment also comes as highly anticipated new models are in the works. Reuters thus recalls that the manufacturer has still not delivered any Cybertruck, unveiled at the end of 2019, and would develop a small, more accessible model, intended in particular for the European market.