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Elon Musk is tightening his grip on Tesla

Geoff Weiss   

Elon Musk is tightening his grip on Tesla
  • Tom Zhu, a top Tesla exec, has been redeployed to China, Electrek reports.
  • Several other top execs have left Elon Musk's company.

One of Tesla's top executives has been reassigned to China in another sign that Elon Musk is tightening his grip on the electric-car maker, a new report says.

Tom Zhu, who was previously in charge of Tesla's US plants and sales — effectively making him second-in-command to Elon Musk — has been named the company's vice president of China, Electrek reports.

The report says that prior to the move, Zhu had assumed more responsibilities at Tesla as Musk was increasingly occupied by X.

Last year, Reuters reported that Zhu — who formerly led the Gigafactory Shanghai manufacturing plant — had been promoted.

Musk has now resumed control of Tesla's North American sales operations, Electrek reports.

Tesla didn't immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.

In recent weeks, Tesla has undergone multiple waves of layoffs and seen the departure of roughly half a dozen top execs, including the SVP of powertrain and electrical engineering, Drew Baglino, and the VP of public policy and business development, Rohan Patel.

That's apparently given Musk the opportunity to consolidate Tesla's power.

Meanwhile, Musk's $47 billion pay package hangs in the balance.

A Delaware court overturned Musk's 2018 CEO performance award in January after a shareholder filed a lawsuit arguing it was excessive. Tesla's board is urging shareholders to reapprove the package in another vote.

Ahead of that vote, The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Musk had been making changes at the company — including a focus on AI technology and robotaxis — that would make him more indispensable to its future. Despite Tesla's rough earnings figures last quarter, the stock still shot up after Musk promised cheaper electric vehicles and hinted at his robotaxi ambitions.

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