Musk Brings Tesla China President Tom Zhu to the US - Has the Succession Process Started?

Musk brings Tesla China president Tom Zhu to the U.S. 6 photos
Photo: Tesla
Tom Zhu and Elon MuskTesla ShanghaiTesla Giga ShanghaiElon MuskElon Musk
Rumors from China indicated that Tom Zhu Xiaotong, the president of Tesla China and head of the carmaker’s Asia Pacific operations, might replace Musk as Tesla CEO. A new Bloomberg report reveals that Zhu is already in the U.S., although for another job.
Earlier, reports from China indicated that Elon Musk is considering stepping down as Tesla CEO and naming Tesla China boss Tom Zhu as the global CEO. The reports are credible, considering Musk repeatedly said he is uncomfortable with the CEO position. A new piece of information might add to the rumors, as Bloomberg reports Tom Zhu is already in the U.S. Nonetheless, Bloomberg says Zhu is there to oversee the ramp-up of Giga Texas, not to replace Musk.

According to Bloomberg, Zhu brought an engineering team from China to oversee Giga Texas operations. The publication cites “people familiar with the matter” who do not wish to be identified. Of course, Tesla representatives in the U.S. and China didn’t respond to requests for comment, which is to be expected considering that Tesla disbanded its PR department a long time ago.

Knowing previous Bloomberg reports about Tesla, we’re not sure this information is entirely accurate. If anything, it seems to confirm the rumors coming from China about him being promoted to Tesla’s global CEO. We’re not sure why Tom Zhu, now in charge of Tesla operations in the entire Asia-Pacific area, would want to move to the U.S. to run a factory.

As the man who oversaw the development of Giga Shanghai, Zhu is certainly more than qualified to help ramp up production at Giga Texas. Nevertheless, if any of Tesla’s gigafactories is in dire need of experienced supervision, that would be Giga Berlin, not Giga Texas. Recent reports show that operations at Tesla’s German gigafactories are significantly behind Texas. One current employee at the Tesla factory in Gruenheide described the situation as “total chaos.”

The Bloomberg report doesn’t reveal how long Zhu and his team will spend in the U.S. or whether he will retain his responsibilities in China and the Asia-Pacific area. We can’t dismiss the report completely because Musk could’ve as well promised Zhu the top position at Tesla if he sorted out problems at Giga Texas. Earlier this year, Musk referred to the Austin gigafactory as a “money furnace.”
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About the author: Cristian Agatie
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After his childhood dream of becoming a "tractor operator" didn't pan out, Cristian turned to journalism, first in print and later moving to online media. His top interests are electric vehicles and new energy solutions.
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