Tesla Reportedly Scraps Its PR Department

"We no longer have a PR Team," said one source at Tesla

Tesla CEO Elon Musk talks to journalists in Germany
Elon Musk appears to be the new one-man PR Team at Tesla.
Patrick Pleul/picture alliance via Getty Images

After the Tesla Battery Day event on September 22, stock prices for the electric vehicle company fell sharply. Why? It was not due to bad press coverage, as CEO Elon Musk insinuated in a recent New York Times interview, but because the company failed to deliver the million-mile EV battery that was anticipated.

Nonetheless, Tesla has effectively shut down its relationship with the media. As EV blog Electrek first reported, “Tesla has dissolved its PR department — technically becoming the first automaker who doesn’t talk to the press.”

While there has been no official confirmation from Tesla that it’s shutting down its public relations operation, and the New York Post notes there are still some “PR operatives in Europe and Asia,” an anonymous source reportedly “at the highest level at Tesla” confirmed the news to Electrek. “We no longer have a PR Team,” the source said.

“Keely Sulprizio, the last person known to officially be in charge of PR/communications at Tesla, left the automaker in December of last year to join Impossible Foods,” wrote Electrek. “Following her departure, virtually every other member of Tesla’s PR team either left or moved to other positions at Tesla.”

Of course, Electrek’s statement that the company “doesn’t talk to the press” is a little excessive. Yes, if this news is true, that means there is no formal division within the company to manage that relationship, but as the New York Times interview makes clear, there is still some connection — it just seems that Elon Musk is becoming the one-man PR team.

Unfortunately, Musk has taken an adversarial stance to the press in recent years. As the Post explains: “The billionaire tech tycoon has also been vocal about his disdain for the media. He recently complained in a New York Times interview that press coverage of Tesla’s September ‘Battery Day’ event showed ‘a sad reflection of their understanding,’ even though reporters weren’t able to ask questions after Musk’s presentation.”

This combative attitude has been ramped up exponentially because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Musk has repeatedly espoused misinformation, most recently in the Times interview, when he claimed, “I’m not at risk for COVID, nor are my kids,” which is a lie. Everyone is at risk for COVID-19 (as the CDC states); it’s the severity of symptoms and fatality rate that changes by age, medical conditions and other factors. 

And in response to the reporter’s statement that real human beings are dying as a result of the coronavirus? Musk said, “Everybody dies.”

You sure it’s the press that’s the problem?

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