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From execs to factory products, Tesla's China unit is gaining prominence

Country boss now second in command, general manager vows to take 'Made in China' overseas... like everything else?

While Tesla continues to take some knocks in stock price and other matters, its China-based factories and execs are poised to spread their influence globally within the company.

According to multiple reports, Tesla's head of China, Tom Zhu, has been picked to take a more global role that includes sales operations in North America and Europe, and the company's US assembly plants.

The promotion makes Zhu second in command at Tesla to Elon Musk, who has been distracted by his side gig at Twitter, noted Reuters, which has seen a copy of the company's new org chart.

The chart showed Zhu's title remaining the same – vice president for Greater China – but adds extra global duties. Zhu was in command at the company's Shanghai Gigafactory when the city was forced to lock down for two months last year thanks to China's dynamic zero-COVID policy.

The Gigafactory was one of the many Shanghai plants given permission to enter a "closed-loop" system where employees, reportedly inclusive of Zhu, were sequestered to live at their workplace in an effort to stop the spread of the virus.

In an interview published Tuesday in Chinese media outlet Autohome, the regional general manager of Tesla China, Kong Yanshuang, called 2022 a "milestone year" for the Gigafactory and said the company had exceeded 100,000 units in a single month in November.

Comparatively, the news outlet reported Tesla China delivered around 650,000 Chinese-made models in the first 11 months of the year and quoted EVs in China experiencing a year-on-year increase of over 90 percent to 6.7 million units.

The company's Model S Plaid and Model X Plaid will officially be announced on January 6, with deliveries in the first half of 2023.

Kong said the Gigafactory was both driving the upgrading of China's EV industry and cultivating its talent pipeline, "further accelerating the prosperity of China's smart vehicle positive R&D system." Over 99 percent of the Gigafactory's employees are Chinese.

Kong likened the Gigafactory's models to a "Made in China" business card sent out globally and that Tesla was contributing to sending that label.

"After the official termination of state electric vehicle subsidies, it is expected that China's new energy vehicle market can enter a new stage of development," said Kong.

"At the same time, we are also looking forward to accelerating the release of vitality in the Chinese auto market after the end of the pandemic, strengthening communications with overseas markets, and continuously improving consumption in the Chinese market while also contributing to 'Made in China' going overseas."

"We sincerely believe that Tesla will create more value in the open, vibrant and dynamic soil of China," the Tesla China manager added.

"In the past three years, Tesla has also participated in the construction of China's increasingly complete new energy vehicle industrial chain, with more than 95 percent of its parts coming from China. Not only is the industry chain getting wider and wider, but many of Tesla's supplier partners have also entered the ranks of the world's high-end brands and developed into high-end and in-depth development in various fields."

Kong said in the future Tesla will continue to open up more patented technologies to speed the development of China's domestic new energy industry.

Tesla took some dents in its last 2022 quarterly earnings report as it fell short of analyst predictions and experienced a stark stock price slide.

However bad that might be, the company managed to come out on top of its competitors, at least in the US where it took almost half of Q3 2022 EV sales.

"Although Tesla has had some headwinds in meeting orders and delivering vehicles, it has remained the undisputed market leader for at least the previous 19 quarters," said analyst Counterpoint this week. ®

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