Tesla Has A New Second-In-Command — What Ought to We Count on?


Tesla has a brand new second-in-command.

Zhu Xiaotong, who known as Tom Zhu, is at present Tesla’s vp for Higher China. He’ll assume duty for Tesla’s US meeting vegetation 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. (Notice: Bloomberg Hyperdrive notes that Tesla hasn’t made any formal announcement about Zhu’s promotion and has but to formally title him as an government officer.)

What do we all know at this level about Tom Zhu? What may his affect appear like for Tesla transferring ahead?

What’s Zhu’s position within the Tesla group? Tom Zhu is now the very best profile government at Tesla after Elon Musk. He might be taking up the extra duties on prime of his present position. Zhu was introduced over to Austin late final yr to assist run the corporate’s latest plant.

What does Zhu’s resume appear like? He holds a 2004 bachelor’s diploma of commerce in info know-how from the Auckland College of Know-how and an MBA from Duke College’s Fuqua College of Enterprise. In an interview with Duke’s Fuqua College, Zhu described himself as “tenacious.” His profession expertise previous to Tesla, in keeping with Forbes, included operating a mission administration consulting agency the place he suggested Chinese language contractors seeking to increase abroad. Zhu rose via Tesla’s ranks shortly, changing into supervisor of China operations by the top of his first yr. Earlier than mass manufacturing started at Tesla Shanghai on the finish of 2019, Zhu had been promoted to world vp and president of Higher China.

Who might 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 below are the large names:

  • Jason Shawhan, director of producing on the Texas Gigafactory;
  • Hrushikesh Sagar, senior director of producing from Tesla’s Fremont manufacturing facility;
  • Joe Ward, vp of Europe, the Center East, and Africa; and,
  • Troy Jones, vp of North America gross sales and repair.

What makes Zhu a superb 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 firms.

What areas of Tesla will come below 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 possible 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 delight himself on loyalty to firm — he’s ceaselessly 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 latest and uncommon video interview with PCAuto, an area car-review web site. “Focus your fundamental power 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. All people 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 workers to start sleeping within the manufacturing facility so issues might proceed operating easily.

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 each day emails with a dozen footage from someday to the subsequent from Tom Zhu, who leads the Gigafactory program.” The Shanghai Gigafactory was in-built 10 months. Ultimately, this turned the largest EV manufacturing plant on this planet. For his half, Zhu mentioned in an interview that Musk “is the neatest particular person on the planet.”

How do Musk and Zhu method their positions in another 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 automobile firm primarily from behind the scenes, away from the media glare. Zhu has made only a few public appearances. Musk, however, is a media showman with an uneven document of product reveals — the Mannequin 3 reveal was document shattering, and others have been influential milestones as properly, however some splashy occasions — like the revealing of photo voltaic roofs, Cybertruck glass, and a humanoid robotic — have been met with solely partial success.

What further 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 could be gaining a second-in-command Mini-Me was a collective sigh of reduction 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 usher in a “Tim Prepare 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, targeted on the Tesla product, immune to the attract of media limelight.

Then once more, some management parallels exist. Their educations ready them for numerous 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 recurrently, 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, will probably be attention-grabbing to look at their relationship evolve and to see the results that Zhu has on Tesla.




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