Tesla Inc’s (TSLA.O) China chief Tom Zhu and a team of his reports have been brought in to troubleshoot production issues in the United States, fueling talk among colleagues he is being groomed for a bigger role at a time when Chief Executive Elon Musk has been distracted by Twitter.
Zhu, who heads Tesla’s Asia operations, has been traveling with a team including Shanghai gigafactory manager, Song Gang, to Tesla’s plants in California and Texas, where he was working as recently as last week, according to two people with knowledge of the matter. Both asked not to be named because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
Tesla did not respond to written requests for comment from Reuters sent to its Shanghai and global media relations accounts. Musk did not respond to Reuters’ email seeking comments for the story. Zhu and Song could not be reached for comment.
Under Zhu, Tesla Shanghai rebounded strongly from lockdowns this year to bring Tesla close to its growth target for 2022 of 50% production growth. Analysts expect output to fall short at closer to 45%, based on forecasts for the just-concluding fourth quarter.
Zhu and others made their first trip to the United States for Tesla this year in August, one of the people said, at a time when the company has some key management roles there unfilled.