Tom Zhu returns to role in China as Tesla layoffs continue

Tesla has undergone another big shift in its executive ranks, with Tom Zhu returning leaving his post in North America and returning to his role in China after rising through the ranks to become the Senior Vice President of Automotive.

At the same time, Tesla has issued another round of layoffs over the weekend, impacting thousands of employees.

Tom Zhu began his career with Tesla in 2014, eventually becoming Vice President of Greater China, with one of his major accomplishments being the construction and operations of Giga Shanghai, a factory which has become the company’s primary vehicle export hub and one of the most productive automotive factories in the world.

After a successful stint in China, Zhu moved to North America in 2022 to help with the production ramp at Giga Texas. Zhu quickly rose through the ranks, becoming responsible for Tesla’s North American factories and the company’s sales, service, and delivery operations in both North America and Europe. Just a few months later he was promoted again to  Senior Vice President of Automotive, with rumours circulating he could be next CEO.

With the recent shakeup at the executive ranks, with Drew Baglino, Rohan Patel, Martin Viecha, and others stepping down, Zhu has also shifted roles. According to local media reports, Zhu is heading back to China to assume his previous role of Senior Vice President of Greater China. Drive Tesla has been able to independently verify these reports.

While Zhu has retained a position within the company, that is not the case for thousands of other employees who were laid off on Sunday. According to a source, the layoffs impacted various parts of the company, including software teams, and sales and service staff, which had already been hard hit with layoffs at the higher ranks. While no official number is available for this latest round of layoffs, we have been told it could be as many as 10,000.

This is now the fourth week of layoffs, after Elon Musk announced in mid-April the company would be laying off more then 10% of its global workforce. Perhaps the biggest shock of the layoffs has been the dismantling of the Supercharger team, which saw over 500 members leave the company after an apparent disagreement between Musk and Rebecca Tinucci, Senior Director of EV Charging on how many people should be laid off.

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