Tesla Motors is losing its communications chief, again.
Ricardo Reyes is leaving the company 18 months after he was rehired from a stint working for Square, the payment processor co-founded by Twitter boss Jack Dorsey. The departure of the company’s head of communications and marketing comes just two weeks before Tesla is set to unveil the $35,000 Model 3 electric sedan aimed at buyers of entry-level luxury cars.
Tesla confirmed the move Wednesday to Bloomberg, but neither the company nor Reyes cited a reason. Reyes left Tesla in 2012 after ushering the Palo Alto, California, electric car company through its 2010 initial public offering and a tumultuous period that nearly saw Tesla run out of cash prior to the introduction of the Model S luxury electric car.
The departure of the Tesla communications and marketing boss is particularly relevant to the company because it doesn’t have a significant advertising or marketing budget. Tesla instead relies on word of mouth from its loyal and wealthy customers. The click-chasing digital media and a legion of exuberant green-car obsessed loyalists pounce on every minute development of the company and its enigmatic Mars-obsessed co-founder, South Africa-born space entrepreneur Elon Musk. This gives Tesla significant (and free) coverage online and on social media.
“To date, media coverage and word of mouth have been the primary drivers of our sales leads and have helped us achieve sales without traditional advertising and at relatively low marketing costs,” the company said in its latest annual report.
After moving to Square, Reyes was replaced by Simon Sproule, who was plucked from Renault-Nissan Alliance. But in late 2014 Sproule moved to Aston Martin and Tesla lured Reyes back into the company fold.
“When I first went to Tesla, I thought the company had this incredible mission, and then there were the tall odds and challenges that attracted me,” Reyes said when he was hired back. “As I look at it now, the company has not lost any of that drive or ambition, and the mission is really clear.”
Reyes’ departure was likely carefully planned, as it was when Jerome Guillen, Tesla Motors Inc.’s vice president of worldwide service and deliveries, took a 17-month leave of absence in August.
Tesla will unveil the Model 3 on March 31 in Hawthorne, California. The car will be priced below $30,000 after a U.S. federal green-car tax incentive.