Tesla to promote Tesla China president to global CEO

December 7, 2022 9:34 pm

Please read our in-depth reporting Exclusive: Musk finds new Tesla CEO to sleep in Gigafactories for him

Update Dec 8 GMT+8 00:00: Add more sources to confirm Zhu's new role and responsibilities.

Update Dec 7 GMT+8 23:30:Clairify the numbers of Tesla's factories and Gigafactories.

Elon Musk has chosen to name Tom Zhu Xiaotong, the President of Tesla China, as the American EV manufacturer's global CEO, according to people familiar with the situation.

Additional sources have just told PingWest that Zhu's new position will not entail robots and automation for vehicles, but rather will focus on automobiles.

Tom Zhu joined Tesla in April 2014 as the director of Tesla's Supercharger program in China. In December 2014, he was appointed Tesla's Global Vice President and President of China, after his predecessor Veronica Wu left the company.

(Tom Zhu with Elon Musk; photo from Duke University's Fuqua School of Business)
(Tom Zhu with Elon Musk; photo from Duke University's Fuqua School of Business)

As Tesla's top China executive, Zhu oversaw a number of localization initiatives to boost Tesla EV products to the Chinese market, including the establishment of Tesla Service Centers, the introduction of new vehicles into China, and the development of the Tesla Gigafactory Shanghai.

Elon Musk may have identified his successor in recent months. Earlier, on Nov. 16, during a trial over Musk's 2018 Tesla pay package, James Murdoch, a Tesla director, testified in court that Elon Musk has in the last few months identified someone as a potential successor to head the electric carmaker. Murdoch did not specify the name of his successor.

Musk also has stated how much he "hates doing management stuff" on multiple occasions. "I tried not to be CEO of Tesla, but I had to or it would die. I rather hate being a boss. I’m an engineer," he said last year while testifying about Tesla's SolarCity acquisition." During the Nov. 16 trial, Musk said the CEO title is not an appropriate description of what he does at his companies.

The US electric carmaker faces stiff competition in China as local brands including BYD, Nio and Li Auto are aggressively vying for market share. In Oct., the company slashed the price of Model 3 and Model Y models in China by up to 9% and offered insurance incentives to boost sales.

Gigafactory Shanghai, which started production in 2020, has quickly become the company's most vital manufacturing hub. In November, the factory hit an all-time record number of deliveries, shipping 100,291 electric vehicles to customers in China and overseas markets.

Tesla currently has seven factories worldwide, with offices in eight cities, and radiates globally from a pivot point in seven countries: China, Japan, Korea, the United States, Australia, Germany, and the Netherlands.