Elon Musk’s no.2 at Tesla goes back to China as the CEO isolates himself at the top

Entertainment

Elon Musk’s no.2 at Tesla, Tom Zhu, is going back to his responsibilities as VP of China as the CEO isolates himself at the top.

Zhu has long been the leader of Tesla’s operations in China and led the very successful Gigafactory Shanghai effort.

Gigafactory Shanghai quickly became Tesla’s best-performing manufacturing facility and to replicate the success in Texas, Musk made Zhu in charge of all Gigafactories back in late 2022.

However, we reported that Zhu was taking an even bigger role at Tesla as Musk was busy running several other companies and spending especially more time at his newly acquired Twitter.

We exclusively reported that Zhu was even made in charge of North American sales and became the de facto head of Tesla’s automotive business – second in command to Musk at Tesla.

He was elevated to the critical “leadership” at Tesla that need to reported their stock transaction to the SEC:

Screenshot

In recent months, Musk took over North American sale operations from Zhu, according to sources familiar with the matter.

As we reported during our podcast last Friday, several sources told Electrek that Tom Zhu was stepping down from his responsibilities with Tesla in North America.

Now, several media in China are confirming that Zhu is indeed coming back to China to lead Tesla’s operations there.

With several rounds of layoffs and executive departures over the last month, it is resulting in Elon Musk isolating himself at the top.

Tesla has to identify critical executives who need to report their stock holdings and transactions to the SEC. The automaker already had a limited official leadership for a company of its size, but even its limited bench was cut by 50% in just a month:

Electrek’s Take

I have talked before about a theory that Musk is cleaning house at Tesla at a time when his leadership is being challenged through his compensation package, which is sort of turning into a confidence vote.

With not as deep of a bench, Musk is making himself more critical at Tesla. At the same time, some of his fans have been pushing a narrative that he will leave Tesla if the shareholders don’t reapprove his compensation package.

The CEO claimed the contrary in the trial over the compensation package, but he has conveniently not denied the theory at this time.

Both Zhu and Baglino were seen as potential replacements for CEO or even potential new COO to support Musk.

Now, one of them is not at Tesla anymore and the other is going back to China.

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