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Tesla Hires New Communications VP; Acura to Have Own Marketing Division

March 14, 2014

Recently, electric car manufacturer Tesla Motors Inc. hired an auto industry veteran as its vice president of communications while luxury automotive brand Acura was announced to have its own marketing division.

After having its direct sales model banned from New Jersey, Tesla hired Simon Sproule to handle the company’s marketing and message. Sproule is currently the director of communications for Renault-Nissan Alliance. The 45-year-old will assume the post of vice president of communications and marketing at Tesla in April.

Tesla spokeswoman Liz Jarvis-Shean confirmed the hiring but did not give any other details.

Many approve of Tesla’s latest move. John Casesa, senior managing director at New York’s Guggenheim Partners LLC, described the hire as ‘shrewd.’ In a article, he said this about Sproule: “He’s very experienced and will bring a lot of knowledge and credibility as an ambassador for Tesla.”

Joe Phillippi of the Andover, New Jersey-based consulting firm AutoTrends Inc. agrees. He noted in the same article that Sproule had the ‘perfect background,’ saying: “He’s been on the tech side, he’s been on the international auto side and he works for a CEO with peripatetic qualities who runs more than one company.”

For 20 years, Sproule has worked for Nissan, Ford and its former luxury brand Jaguar. He also spent two months working at Microsoft Corp. In 2009, he served as Renault-Nissan’s global communications director in Paris. He left for Japan in 2010 to manage Nissan’s marketing and communications department.

Sproule’s former employer and soon-to-be boss are both multi-taskers. Carlos Ghosn is CEO and chairman of Renault and Nissan while Elon Musk, Tesla’s co-founder and CEO, also leads Space Exploration Technologies Corp., SpaceX and SolarCity Corp.

Sproule will be leaving the world’s largest producer of battery-powered cars to move to the California-based company that aims to get that title. He will be joining Tesla as the company moves to expand to Europe and China. The electric car company is gearing up to sell their products in China as it continues to receive opposition from dealers all over the United States regarding its direct sales.

Meanwhile, April is also the month when Acura will get a sales and marketing division that is separate from Honda’s. In a statement, the brand mentioned that it hopes to come up with sales and marketing plans that are more suitable for its vehicles.

The move comes after Acura suffered a significant drop in the sales of its sedans. In 2013, the brand sold 165,436 units, the highest sales total since 2007 and a 5.9 percent growth over the year before. Bloomberg recently reported that the combined sales of its sedans (TSX, TL, ILX and RLX) plunged by 10 percent. The drop in sales is notable, since the luxury segment is doing really well at present.

Acura’s TSX and TL are both on their way out, to be replaced by the 2015 TLX. On the contrary, the ILX and RLX are fairly new models.

The new Acura division will be headed by Michael Accavitti. Erik Berkman, who will be heading the brand’s new business planning office, will be under Accavitti.

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