Tesla officially announced Tom Zhu’s new position in a recent SEC filing. Tom Zhu is listed as Tesla’s Senior Vice President of Automotive under Executive Officers, a significant role for the former Giga Shanghai CEO.
Zhu has been with Tesla since 2014 and is credited with the success of Giga Shanghai and Tesla’s market position in China. He has been rumored to be Elon Musk’s replacement for some time, especially since his abrupt move from China to the United States and subsequent appointment to oversee Tesla’s global production.
Tesla also filed an update to its executive list making Zhu one of the company’s top four executives. According to the announcement, Zhu’s responsibilities will now be limited to Tesla’s automotive division which means he will not be involved in the company’s autonomous driving or robotics development.
“Mr. Zhu joined Tesla in April 2014, and served in various operational roles before being appointed as Vice President, Greater China, where he led the construction and operations of Gigafactory Shanghai. Mr. Zhu holds a bachelor’s degree of commerce in information technology from the Auckland University of Technology and an M.B.A. from Duke University,” wrote Tesla in its SEC filing.
Musk has stated several times that he is not the best candidate for CEO and would rather be an engineer. Many critics argue that Musk has taken on too much with the recent Twitter acquisition. The appointment of Tom Zhu will be interpreted as an attempt to relieve Elon Musk of some of his responsibilities.