October 4, 2023

Tom Zhu: Elon Musk’s right-hand man at Tesla

Tom Zhu: Elon Musk’s right-hand man at Tesla

Hong Kong

Tesla’s China chief has reportedly been given an enormous promotion.

Tom Zhu has been handed Tesla’s US meeting crops and gross sales operations in North America and Europe as extra duties, leaving simply the Berlin Gigafactory exterior his remit, in keeping with media reviews on Tuesday.

The reviews have intensified hypothesis that China-born Zhu is being groomed to succeed Elon Musk as CEO on the world’s greatest electrical carmaker. So, what can we find out about him?

Tom Zhu, Tesla's executive in charge of China, speaks as a new Tesla experience store opens near West Lake on August 18, 2015 in Hangzhou, China.

Zhu, who’s now the highest-profile Tesla govt after Musk, has performed an enormous function in serving to the corporate rebound strongly from Covid lockdowns in China, the carmaker’s greatest worldwide market.

His reported appointment comes at a time when Musk has been distracted by his acquisition of Twitter, and Tesla’s inventory has plunged 65% in 2022.

Whereas Tesla didn’t reply to requests for remark by CNN, Chinese language media has been speculating since December that Zhu was being groomed for an even bigger world function on the electrical automaker.

“Zhu is a core chief at Tesla and a linchpin to its success particularly in China,” mentioned Daniel Ives, managing director and senior fairness analysis analyst overlaying the tech business at Wedbush Securities.

Zhu joined Tesla in 2014 and has been described as “pragmatic,” “industrious” and “a workaholic” by the Chinese language media.

“I wanna sleep a lot, however the job is so rattling attention-grabbing,” he mentioned in a 2019 publish on his Weibo account.

Zhu has made few public appearances since becoming a member of Tesla, and there may be little public details about his age or private life. He was born in China and CNN was not in a position to verify if he nonetheless holds Chinese language citizenship.

In keeping with his social media profile, he acquired a bachelor’s diploma from the Auckland College of Know-how in 2004 and an MBA diploma from The Fuqua Faculty of Enterprise at Duke College.

Earlier than becoming a member of Tesla, he based a undertaking administration consulting agency, providing recommendation to Chinese language contractors who wished to broaden abroad.

A 2021 interview by the Jiefang Day by day in Shanghai, the Communist Social gathering’s official newspaper within the monetary hub, confirmed Zhu working from an open workplace, with hardly any time to eat breakfast.

“Effectivity and pragmatism are a mode of our firm,” he mentioned within the interview, which is likely one of the few Zhu has appeared in since becoming a member of Tesla.

Aerial view of Tesla Shanghai Gigafactory at Lingang New Area on July 11, 2021 in Shanghai, China.

In a separate video interview final 12 months by PCauto, a privately owned Chinese language information portal, Zhu revealed extra about his private life and dealing model.

Tesla’s China boss doesn’t embody a flashy life-style. He lives in a low-cost public rental residence, paying a month-to-month hire of lower than 2,000 yuan ($290), as it’s near the sprawling Shanghai manufacturing facility.

Dwelling near work is “fairly handy,” Zhu mentioned within the interview. He additionally automotive swimming pools with colleagues and begins work at 6 or 7 within the morning, usually staying past midnight.

He additionally revealed that he texted Musk recurrently, discussing points at work or plans for the long run, which Zhu mentioned made him “really feel extraordinarily excited.”

Elon Musk arrives at the In America: An Anthology of Fashion themed Met Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City on May 2, 2022.

In 2019, after a number of typhoons hit the Shanghai plant’s drainage system, Zhu and different Tesla workers manually drained water with plastic buckets within the rain.

“Getting your fingers soiled” represents an entrepreneurial spirit and tradition of of the corporate, he mentioned.

Zhu’s reported promotion got here after a formidable efficiency by Tesla’s China operations.

Since 2014, Tesla has expanded quickly on the planet’s largest automotive market. In 2019, it constructed the Shanghai Gigafactory inside 10 months, at a price that was 65% cheaper than the Mannequin 3 manufacturing plant in the US.

Inside a number of years, it turned the most important EV manufacturing plant on the planet.

In 2021, Tesla delivered 936,000 automobiles globally, greater than half of which got here from the Shanghai manufacturing facility.

In August 2022, Musk mentioned the corporate had manufactured over three million automobiles, a million of which got here from Shanghai. In November, the Shanghai manufacturing facility set a contemporary month-to-month supply report of greater than 100,000 automobiles. All this was achieved after Covid restrictions prompted the plant to briefly droop manufacturing final 12 months.

Tesla’s China gross sales additionally beat expectations. For the primary three quarters of 2022, Tesla generated income of $13.6 billion from China, up 51% from the identical interval a 12 months in the past.

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