Tesla has a brand new second-in-command.
Zhu Xiaotong, who known as Tom Zhu, is presently Tesla’s vice chairman for Better China. He’ll assume duty for Tesla’s US meeting crops and gross sales operations in North America and Europe. The promotion comes amidst a lot trepidation over CEO Elon Musk’s divided consideration between Tesla and Twitter. (Word: Bloomberg Hyperdrive notes that Tesla hasn’t made any formal announcement about Zhu’s promotion and has but to formally title him as an govt officer.)
What do we all know at this level about Tom Zhu? What would possibly his affect appear to be for Tesla shifting ahead?
What’s Zhu’s function within the Tesla group? Tom Zhu is now the very best profile govt at Tesla after Elon Musk. He shall be taking over the extra duties on prime of his present function. Zhu was introduced over to Austin late final yr to assist run the corporate’s latest plant.
What does Zhu’s resume appear to be? He holds a 2004 bachelor’s diploma of commerce in data expertise from the Auckland College of Expertise and an MBA from Duke College’s Fuqua Faculty of Enterprise. In an interview with Duke’s Fuqua Faculty, Zhu described himself as “tenacious.” His profession expertise previous to Tesla, in keeping with Forbes, included operating a challenge administration consulting agency the place he suggested Chinese language contractors seeking to broaden abroad. Zhu rose by means of Tesla’s ranks rapidly, turning into supervisor of China operations by the tip of his first yr. Earlier than mass manufacturing started at Tesla Shanghai on the finish of 2019, Zhu had been promoted to world vice chairman and president of Better China.
Who shall be inside Zhu’s chain of command? Tesla’s nation managers in China, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand will proceed to report back to Zhu, in addition to some North American ones. Listed here are the massive names:
- Jason Shawhan, director of producing on the Texas Gigafactory;
- Hrushikesh Sagar, senior director of producing from Tesla’s Fremont manufacturing facility;
- Joe Ward, vice chairman of Europe, the Center East, and Africa; and,
- Troy Jones, vice chairman of North America gross sales and repair.
Tesla’s China chief Tom Zhu has been promoted to take direct oversight of the electrical automotive maker’s U.S. meeting crops in addition to gross sales operations in North America and Europe. https://t.co/wO4tF2h7PR
— Automotive Information (@Automotive_News) January 3, 2023
What makes Zhu a great match for the brand new second-in-command place? Zhu has been credited for a way strongly the Shanghai plant was in a position to rebound after Covid lockdowns in China halted manufacturing for a lot of corporations.
What areas of Tesla will come beneath Zhu’s purview? Zhu will supervise Tesla’s manufacturing plans for the Cybertruck launch, an up to date model of the Mannequin 3 sedan, and the probably emergence of a smaller, cheaper mannequin (we’ll name it the “Mannequin C” for now).
What sort of particular person is Zhu? Zhu appears to pleasure himself on loyalty to firm — he’s often seen wearing a Tesla-branded fleece — and on a minimalist method to manufacturing. “The corporate’s tradition is to not waste sources and time on these fancy and nonsense issues,” Zhu mentioned in a current and uncommon video interview with PCAuto, an area car-review web site. “Focus your major vitality and sources into what actually issues. We don’t have an enormous administrative group right here to service the administration. Guide tickets by your self, seize your meals by your self. Everyone could be very used to it. That is an expression of true equality, proper?” It has been mentioned that throughout the two-month Covid lockdown in Shanghai, Zhu was one of many first staff to start sleeping within the manufacturing facility so issues may proceed operating easily.
*TESLA CHINA BOSS TOM ZHU TO TAKE CHARGE OF U.S. FACTORIES, U.S. & EUROPE SALES OPERATIONS$TSLA pic.twitter.com/4AndH3wwP6
— Investing.com (@Investingcom) January 3, 2023
How do Musk and Zhu get alongside? They appear to have an amiable relationship. Throughout an April 2019 earnings name, Musk complimented Zhu, acknowledging that progress on the Shanghai manufacturing facility was “testomony to the excellent execution of our workforce on the bottom there. I get every day emails with a dozen footage from in the future to the following from Tom Zhu, who leads the Gigafactory program.” The Shanghai Gigafactory was in-built 10 months. Ultimately, this turned the most important EV manufacturing plant on this planet. For his half, Zhu mentioned in an interview that Musk “is the neatest particular person on the planet.”
Tom Zhu on Tesla China creating a China-specific mannequin automotive: “It is a crucial alternative in China“ pic.twitter.com/1DCL6JTx3X
— Yashu Sharma 🍊 (@heyitsyashu) January 5, 2023
How do Musk and Zhu method their positions in a different way? The 2 execs have distinct strategies of management. Zhu, who joined Tesla in 2014 to assist construct out the corporate’s Supercharger community, has influenced the all-electric automotive firm primarily from behind the scenes, away from the media glare. Zhu has made only a few public appearances. Musk, alternatively, is a media showman with an uneven file of product reveals — the Mannequin 3 reveal was file shattering, and others have been influential milestones as effectively, however some splashy occasions — like the revealing of photo voltaic roofs, Cybertruck glass, and a humanoid robotic — have been met with solely partial success.
Tom Zhu is the Tim Cook dinner of Tesla pic.twitter.com/mIXHAlGxf2
— Massive Tesla (@hikingskiing) January 3, 2023
What extra particulars have but to be disclosed about Zhu? Little is understood about Zhu’s household life, his age, or his nation of citizenship. He was born in China, however he does maintain a passport from New Zealand. Most of his household reportedly lives in Beijing, some 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) away.
The CleanTechnica Takeaway
The primary response to the information that Musk can be gaining a second-in-command Mini-Me was a collective sigh of aid across the globe from Tesla followers. Musk has been the goal of an entire lot of criticism since his 2022 buy of Twitter, and there have been rising calls to herald a “Tim Cook dinner” or “Gwynne Shotwell” for Tesla. Is the reveal of Tom Zhu’s prolonged umbrella of duties the results of Musk’s mercurial actions elsewhere and their direct correlation to Tesla’s “market craziness?” Has the Tesla Board of Administrators lastly acquiesced to pressures to reside as much as its fiduciary duties?
Isn’t it time to get a dose of stability and calm for a change at Tesla?
Tom Zhu appears to be a foil to Elon Musk — pragmatic, environment friendly, devoted, centered on the Tesla product, proof against the attract of media limelight.
Then once more, some management parallels exist. Their educations ready them for various and dynamic organizational stewardship. Each execs are famous for sleeping close to the manufacturing line as crunch time for manufacturing numbers neared. “Getting your fingers soiled” represents an entrepreneurial spirit and tradition of the corporate, Zhu has mentioned. Musk defined that he felt immersed in “manufacturing hell” as the corporate ramped up manufacturing of the Mannequin 3.
Musk and Zhu praise one another publicly, demonstrating skilled respect and deference the place applicable. The 2 textual content repeatedly, discussing points at work or plans for the long run, which Zhu mentioned made him “really feel extraordinarily excited.”
As the 2 settle into their newly outlined roles, it is going to be attention-grabbing to observe their relationship evolve and to see the results that Zhu has on Tesla.
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