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Tesla’s head of electric vehicle factories worldwide appears >

Pictures: Tesla

One expectation that Tesla didn’t meet at Investor Day this Wednesday was that no co-CEO or even a new CEO was introduced there. It happened because, according to a member of the board of directors, the current Elon Musk has identified a successor, investors have long demanded to plan for this, and at the end of 2022 it became known that the successful Chinese manager Tom Zhou had global assignments in Tesla. At least he confirmed it in person at the event in Texas — and as the new head of all electric vehicle plants for the company, he set a new record and milestone to announce.

Gigafactory trainer with matching t-shirt

Like a number of new faces to the public at Tesla, Zhu briefly introduced himself when he took the stage at Investor Day (see photo). However, it hasn’t been entirely outlandish since last December at the latest: At the time, a Chinese newspaper initially reported that Zhu had been named Tesla’s new global CEO. This put it in a global auto-only role, but a Western agency also reported that it was in the US to take care of the Gigafactory in Texas.

Later, a photo of Tesla marking the first 3,000 Model Y produced there within a week confirmed that Zhu was there at that time. And on Wednesday, the more detailed report from Pingwest (in corrected form for now) also proved correct. He said in his debut that he is now globally responsible for production, sales and service. Zhou said he has worked at Tesla for 14 years, previously managing the company in China and Asia Pacific, and representing all of the giant factories at Investor Day, wearing a black T-shirt matching one of those factories.

Zhu was not offered an address, as other budding Tesla executives are. But his work in the US seems to have already had an impact. He explained that Tesla currently has four electric car factories around the world with a total of 65,000 production employees and a production capacity of about 2 million annually. An increase in this value is expected, as we are always trying to get more out of the existing presence. The global head of the Gigafactory gave him a concrete example of this: Just the day before, the factory in Fremont had set a new daily record, he reported.

Targeting the new Tesla record in Mexico

A graph behind it showed that production there in the fourth quarter of 2022 was at its highest level since the third quarter of 2021, and therefore also likely the highest level on record. Coincidentally, Zhu also managed to announce in his first public appearance as Tesla’s representative in the West that all of the company’s production teams had reached another milestone together on Investor Day morning: Tesla’s four millionth electric car was produced at the Gigafactory in Texas — visitors may have watched it. It’s only been seven months now from the third to fourth million after the first twelve years.

Nothing is known about Zhu’s on-site work at Tesla’s German factory, but she nonetheless reported her own achievement in mid-December, 4,000 Model Ys produced in one week. This report is still pending for the Gigafactory in Texas, but that doesn’t mean the mark hasn’t been hit yet. In any case, Zhu wants to beat the pace he set in China in 2019: It took just over twelve months from the start of factory construction there to the delivery of the first Model 3, he said Wednesday — and with the new Tesla according to Zhu, Mexico’s Gigafactory should be running faster, said the governor of the state being built the next day.