Tesla’s China Head Now Oversees Its US Factories, Becomes Musk’s Number Two: REPORT

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Tom Zhu, Tesla’s executive responsible for overseeing the company’s China business, has been promoted to oversee the company’s factories in the U.S. and sales operations in North America and Europe, Reuters reported Tuesday, citing internal documentation.

Following this promotion, Zhu has effectively become CEO Elon Musk’s right hand man at a time when Musk has been criticized by investors for spending too much time managing Twitter, which Musk acquired and became CEO of in October, according to Reuters. Zhu’s title, vice president for Greater China, remained unchanged, and he retained his responsibility for Chinese factories and the company’s sales in Asia. (RELATED: Tesla Unexpectedly Paused Production At Chinese Facility Early As Demand Slumps: REPORT)

Tesla managers that now report to Zhu include the directors of manufacturing at Tesla’s U.S.-based factories, and sales executives responsible for North America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa, in addition to the managers responsible for China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, who already reported to him, Reuters reported. While Zhu did not have a direct report at Tesla’s Berlin factory, Tesla’s vice president in charge of Europe, the Middle East and Africa, was now a direct report to Zhu and had responsibility for the plant.

The China-born Zhu, who holds a New Zealand passport, joined Tesla in 2014 and currently lives in a government-subsidized apartment close to the company’s Shanghai factory, Reuters reported. Prior to his time at Tesla, Zhu served a stint as a project manager advising Chinese contractors working in Africa, for a company established by his classmates at Duke University.

In November, Tesla board member James Murdoch noted that the company had identified a potential Musk successor, but did not reveal who it might be, Reuters reported. The company’s stock has been struggling amid production issues and Musk’s sale of billions in the company’s shares, and opened down more than 6% following the news, according to Google Finance.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a Daily Caller News Foundation request for comment.

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