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Tesla Promotes China Chief Tom Zhu to Global Role

Tesla has promoted its China Chief, Tom Zhu, to take direct oversight of the company's US assembly plants and sales operations in North America and Europe.

Tesla Cars in the Production Chain
Tesla Cars in the Production Chain

The move makes Zhu the highest-profile executive at Tesla after CEO Elon Musk, with direct oversight for deliveries in all of its major markets and operations of its crucial production hubs. This organizational change separates vehicle design and development, which Musk has been heavily involved in, while also creating an apparent deputy to Musk on the more near-term challenges of managing global sales and output.

Zhu and his team were brought in by Tesla late last year to troubleshoot production issues in the United States, leading to speculation among colleagues that he was being groomed for a bigger role. His promotion to a global role comes when Musk has been distracted by his acquisition of Twitter. Tesla analysts and investors have called for action to deepen the senior executive bench and allow Musk to focus on the company.

Under Zhu's leadership, Tesla's Shanghai plant rebounded strongly from COVID lockdowns in China. The managers who will now report to Zhu include Jason Shawhan, director of manufacturing at the Gigafactory in Texas; Hrushikesh Sagar, senior director of manufacturing at Tesla's Fremont factory; Joe Ward, vice president in charge of Europe, the Middle East, and Africa; and Troy Jones, vice president of North America sales and service. Tesla country managers in China, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand will continue to report to Zhu.

Zhu, who holds a New Zealand passport and joined Tesla in 2014, is a no-fuss manager who favors Tesla-branded fleece jackets and has lived in a government-subsidized apartment near the Shanghai Gigafactory. It still needs to be clarified if he will move after his promotion. Zhu takes charge of Tesla's main production hubs at a time when the company is preparing the launch of its Cybertruck and a revamped version of its Model 3 sedan, as well as developing a cheaper electric vehicle. However, details on this plan have yet to be provided.

Tesla Q4 Deliveries Fall Short of Wall Street Estimates

Tesla announced on Monday that it delivered 405,278 vehicles in the fourth quarter of 2020, falling short of Wall Street estimates, according to data compiled by Refinitiv. In the same period a year earlier, the company had delivered 308,600 vehicles. Despite missing estimates, Tesla's Q4 deliveries marked a 31.8% increase from the previous year.

In the third quarter of 2020, Tesla reported a delivery number of 139,300 vehicles, beating expectations and setting a new record for the company. This success was largely due to strong demand in China and Europe. Tesla's Q4 deliveries were boosted by the addition of new markets, including the expansion of its Shanghai Gigafactory and the start of Model 3 deliveries in Germany and the Netherlands.

Looking ahead, Tesla has set a goal to deliver 500,000 vehicles in 2020, which it has said it is on track to achieve. The company has also announced plans to enter additional markets, including India and Brazil, in the coming years.

Tesla Expands Executive Team with New Hires

Tesla has announced several new hires to its executive team as it continues expanding its operations and production capabilities. These new executives will be responsible for various aspects of the company's business, including manufacturing, engineering, and energy.

One of the new hires is Dr. Frances Spivy-Weber, who will join Tesla as Manufacturing and Supply Chain Vice President. Dr. Spivy-Weber brings over 20 years of experience in the field, including her previous role as Chief Supply Chain Officer at Alphabet's Verily Life Sciences. She will oversee the company's global manufacturing and supply chain operations in her new role at Tesla.

Another new hire is Charles Mwangi, who will join Tesla as Vice President of Engineering. Mwangi has over 20 years of experience in engineering and has held leadership positions at companies such as Apple and GE Appliances. He will lead Tesla's engineering efforts across the company's product lines.

In addition, Tesla has also hired Dr. Sanjay Dhall as Vice President of Energy Operations. Dhall has over 15 years of experience in the energy industry and has held leadership positions at companies such as First Solar and GE Energy. He will oversee Tesla's energy storage products and renewable energy systems development and deployment.

These new hires demonstrate Tesla's commitment to expanding and strengthening its executive team as it grows and develops new products and technologies. The addition of these experienced leaders will no doubt be a valuable asset to the company as it continues to push the boundaries of innovation in the automotive and energy industries.