There's been a decent amount of ink spilled (quite justly) on the Musk/China issue but the thing that sticks out about it to me is that it shows Musk *is* capable of disciplining his utterances given sufficient incentive. He retains a certain level of self-control.
— Alex Godofsky (@AlexGodofsky) December 29, 2022
— Reuters (@Reuters) January 3, 2023
Certainly, Tesla’s biggest financial backers retain a certain level of control:
Tesla Inc’s China chief Tom Zhu has been promoted to take direct oversight of the electric carmaker’s U.S. assembly plants as well as sales operations in North America and Europe, according to an internal posting of reporting lines reviewed by Reuters.
The Tesla posting showed that Zhu’s title of vice president for Greater China had not changed and that he also retained his responsibilities as Tesla’s most senior executive for sales in the rest of Asia as of Tuesday.
The move makes Zhu the highest-profile executive at Tesla after Chief Executive Elon Musk, with direct oversight for deliveries in all of its major markets and operations of its key production hubs.
The reporting lines for Zhu would keep Tesla’s vehicle design and development – both areas where Musk has been heavily involved – separate while creating an apparent deputy to Musk on the more near-term challenges of managing global sales and output…
[Musk retains the corner office and all the
Legos & crayons development prototype tools; Zhu has the keys to the cashbox and the HR files]
Zhu and a team of his reports were brought in by Tesla late last year to troubleshoot production issues in the United States, driving an expectation among his colleagues then that he was being groomed for a bigger role.
Zhu’s appointment to a global role comes at a time when Musk has been distracted by his acquisition of Twitter and Tesla analysts and investors have urged action that would deepen the senior executive bench and allow him to focus on Tesla…
Zhu, who was born in China but now holds a New Zealand passport, joined Tesla in 2014. Before that he was a project manager at a company established by his MBA classmates at Duke University, advising Chinese contractors working on infrastructure projects in Africa.
During Shanghai’s two-month COVID lockdown, Zhu was among the first batch of employees sleeping in the factory as they sought to keep it running, people who work with him have said.
Zhu, a no-fuss manager who sports a buzz cut, favors Tesla-branded fleece jackets and has lived in a government-subsidized apartment that is a 10-minute drive from the Shanghai Gigafactory. It was not immediately clear whether he would move after his promotion.
He takes charge of Tesla’s main production hubs at a time when the company is readying the launch of Cybertruck and a revamped version of its Model 3 sedan. Tesla has also said it is developing a cheaper electric vehicle but has not provided details on that plan…
Tesla board member James Murdoch said in November the company had recently identified a potential successor to Musk without naming the person. Murdoch did not respond to a request for comment…
Tesla lost around $47 billion in market cap today. Or, put another way, it lost more than one full Twitter.
— Dan Primack (@danprimack) January 3, 2023
Elon Musk becomes first person ever to lose $268b https://t.co/XF4djx24OU r
— Mike Walker (@New_Narrative) December 31, 2022
(Arguably, this leaves aside a largish group of kleptocratic rulers and oligarchs, but Musk can console himself that he isn’t being winkled out of a ‘spider hole’ by an angry mob of his former palace guardsmen. Yet.)