Elon Musk's successor said to be Tom Zhu as Tesla China's CEO arrives to ramp up Giga Texas production
Tesla isn’t shy to import manufacturing help when needed and, after bringing Japanese supervisors from Panasonic to try and ramp up battery production at the Fremont plant, it will now use Chinese Gigafactory help yet again, but for the Austin factory, reports Bloomberg. Tesla has apparently dispatched none other than Tom Zhu, the head of its China operations, to oversee the Giga Texas capacity expansion, in the hope to replicate the wonders he did for the Shanghai Gigafactory earlier this year.
There, he mimicked an Elon Musk level of hustle by reportedly sleeping for months inside the factory in order to battle several production headwinds that overlapped. The Giga Shanghai capacity expansion that made it the most productive and efficient Tesla plant globally, came shortly after the challenges with China’s strict zero-COVID policy that forced manufacturing efforts to be on and off there for several weeks at a time in the spring.
The Giga Austin factory will be in charge of the Cybertruck’s production next year and it is now assembling the unique Model Y version with the 4680 battery cells, too. Tesla China’s CEO apparently was summoned for help earlier to the Fremont factory as well, plus Elon Musk reportedly was spending a lot of time with him in the company’s Texas headquarters, jointly working on various manufacturing projects. Elon Musk is on record praising Tom Zhu and his subordinates’ work ethic, saying that they aren’t dodging work like in the US, and are capable of "burning the 3AM oil" when the going gets tough.
The two CEOs may have developed such co-dependence that Elon Musk is reportedly thinking to offload some or most of his operational responsibilities to Mr. Zhu, at least as far as Tesla’s EV business is concerned. While it makes sense, this news comes from the same publication that Tesla sued in China for badmouthing the Giga Shanghai working conditions and won, so take its Tesla reports with a grain of salt still. "Zhu's new position will not entail robots and automation for vehicles, but rather will focus on automobiles," claims the publication, citing the perennial "people familiar with the situation."
Tesla’s head of investor relations is on record saying that the company’s next 5-year plan has a few overarching objectives and they have to do with cutting production costs and ensuring steady battery supply, both of which there’s apparently nobody at Tesla more qualified to oversee than Tom Zhu who seemingly lives and breathes Elon Musk’s abrupt and workaholic management style.