Exclusive: Tesla’s head of China takes over sales in North America

Tesla’s head of China, Tom Zhu, has taken over responsibilities for sales, service, and deliveries in North America, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Last month, we reported on a rumor that Zhu, president of Tesla China, would replace Musk as CEO of Tesla.

We were skeptical of the report as it came from a Chinese outlet that was just found guilty of spreading fake news about Tesla in China and was ordered to compensate the company.

However, other reports are starting to add validity to Zhu at least having a greater role at Tesla, albeit not necessarily the role of CEO.

We did report that Zhu was tapped to go lead Gigafactory Texas – though it’s unclear if the role is permanent.

Over the last few weeks, it was also reported that he has stepped down as the official representative of Tesla’s China corporation, and he is reportedly being groomed for a bigger role in the US.

Now Electrek has learned that Zhu has started to take a broader role in the US – starting with responsibilities for sales, deliveries, and service in North America.

Officially, Zhu’s official title remains vice president in charge of Asia/Pacific, but sources familiar with the matter told Electrek that he has now been added to the North American sales, service, and delivery organization chart.

Troy Jones is vice president of North America sales and service at Tesla. He is a long-time veteran at the company with 12 years of experience. He has been the head of sales in North America for a few years now and reported directly to Elon Musk.

Now he reports directly to Zhu – making him in charge of sales and service in North America.

Zhu is a rising star within Tesla. He was initially hired to develop the Supercharger network in China, but he quickly took over all responsibility for Tesla in China, and later Asia/Pacific was added to his responsibilities.

Under his leadership, Tesla grew significantly in China and built Gigafactory Shanghai, which is an extremely productive asset that contributes massively to the company’s bottom line.

The executive is taking over sales leadership at a critical moment for Tesla’s US operations since the new federal tax credit for electric vehicles is taking place and should accelerate sales in Tesla’s home market.

Electrek’s Take

Top comment by Michael

Liked by 11 people

I think those people who are skeptical about Zhu need to understand it is super difficult to retain a Chinese executive in a global company like Tesla because lot of Tesla's Chinese competitors are willing to double the pay and poach Zhu away any time. This is why you don't see many Chinese executives with global position in American companies, compared to Indian CEOs that are everywhere.

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It looks increasingly likely that Zhu is going to be made president of Tesla Automotive – a similar role that Jerome Guillen held a few years ago at Tesla before he went back to the Tesla Semi program and later left the company.

I’ve heard some pushback from some investors who doubt that putting a Chinese national in charge of Tesla’s American workforce will work out well. Their main point is that managing a Chinese workforce with a Chinese work ethic and compliance is way easier than working with an American workforce.

I certainly understand the concern, but I’m less skeptical than those investors. You can’t deny the guy’s success in China, and I’m sure he is aware of the cultural differences since he has been educated in the US, Duke University, and he has worked internationally – not just in China.

Hopefully, he can replicate some of Giga Shanghai’s success in Tesla’s US factories and streamline sales and service at the same time.

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