Heir Apparent Departs? Elon Musk's Rumored Tesla Successor Leaves North America To Sharpen Focus On China Amid Mass Layoffs

Tom Zhu, long rumored to be Elon Musk‘s successor at Tesla Inc. TSLA, is set to return to his role in China, coinciding with ongoing layoffs within the company.

What Happened: Zhu, who joined Tesla in 2014, is leaving his North American post to reassume his position as Senior Vice President of Greater China, Drive Tesla reported.

This move is part of a broader executive shake-up at Tesla, with several other top officials stepping down.

Zhu, who had a successful tenure in China before his North American assignment in 2022, was instrumental in the construction and operations of Giga Shanghai, Tesla’s main vehicle export hub. 

Zhu’s return to China has been confirmed by local media.

See Also: ‘It’s An Obvious Move:’ Elon Musk Nudges Warren Buffett Again To Take Position In Tesla

Tesla is also implementing another round of layoffs affecting thousands of employees across various departments, including software, sales, and service teams. This marks the fourth week of layoffs, following Musk’s mid-April announcement of more than a 10% reduction in Tesla’s global workforce.

The Supercharger team has been particularly affected, with over 500 members departing the company following a reported disagreement between Musk and Rebecca Tinucci, Senior Director of EV Charging.

Why It Matters: Zhu’s return to China comes just over a year after he was appointed the head of Tesla’s automotive business.

Zhu’s diverse operational roles and successful stint as VP of Greater China have positioned him as a potential successor to Musk, as some investors have been calling for a succession plan due to Musk’s increasing focus on Twitter since he took over the platform in October 2022. 

Zhu’s return to China, Tesla’s biggest geography in terms of production and sales, could be a strategic move to strengthen the company’s foothold in the world’s biggest EV market.

Read Next: Tesla Semi Scores Another S&P 500 Name After Pepsi And Walmart? Video Shows Big-Box Retailer Using EV Giant’s Heavy Truck

Photo courtesy: Tesla

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