Zhu was in Austin this week and brought some of his engineering team from China to help oversee the Giga Texas ramp up, according to Bloomberg.
(Giga Texas exterior. Image credit: Tesla earnings report)
Elon Musk has appointed Tesla China executive Tom Zhu to help run the electric vehicle maker's newest factory in Austin, Texas, Bloomberg reported today, citing people familiar with the matter.
Zhu was in Austin this week and brought some of his engineering team from China to help oversee the ramp-up at Giga Texas, a US hub for the Model Y and future production of the Cybertruck, according to the report.
Zhu was transferred to Austin because Tesla has been working to increase production at its new Texas plant, the report said.
Tesla originally planned to produce the Model Y at the plant using its new, larger 4680 lithium-ion battery, which Musk called a "money furnace" earlier this year.
But given that the new battery wasn't ready for volume production, Tesla switched to using the old 2170 battery.
Zhu joined Tesla in April 2014 as director of the EV maker's Supercharger program in China. In July 2019, he was mentioned in media reports as Tesla's global vice president and president of the Greater China region.
Earlier today, Chinese tech media outlet Ping West, citing unnamed sources, said Musk has identified Zhu to succeed him as CEO of the electric vehicle company.
Zhu's CEO role would be global, but the scope of responsibilities would likely be limited to Tesla's automotive business and not include self-driving and robotics programs, Ping West said, citing different sources.
After Tesla's Shanghai plant was lifted from Covid lockdown, Zhu spent most of the second half of the year at Tesla's Gigafactory in Fremont, California, and headquarters in Austin, Texas, working with Musk on a number of global matters, according to Ping West.
Another Chinese media outlet, Jiemian, cited a Tesla insider in a subsequent report saying that the news could not be confirmed at this time, but that it was a possibility because of the outstanding performance of Tesla in the Chinese market.
However, employees within Tesla have expressed concerns about the news that Musk is stepping down.
Musk's influence and work style at Tesla has had a big impact on the company and could affect the company's continued growth, Jiemian said, citing Tesla insiders.
In a November 1 report, Bloomberg cited people familiar with the matter as saying Tesla will send engineers and production staff from its Shanghai plant to help with the expansion of its factory in Fremont.
Tesla will send on-site staff, particularly automation and controls engineers, to help expand production at the Fremont plant, where Tesla's Model S, Model X, Model 3, and Model Y cars are built, the people said.