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After the announcement that Tesla had repaid its $456 million loan in full earlier this week, and proclaimed themselves “the only American car company to have fully repaid the government,” the old guard stepped up and took offense. Chrysler soon posted a blogthat called Tesla “unmistakably incorrect” and said that Chrysler has repaid their government loan in full two whole years earlier.
It would have been a great rebuttal. Except it isn’t true.
The bitterness and resentment is understandable. It has been a long and difficult road to recovery for Chrysler, who have had to watch the media and customers fawn over the new EV darling and their stellar Tesla Model S. While things have been looking up for Chrysler lately, with improved sales and significantly better products, Tesla has emerged as an unqualified success and even won over doubters with their loan repayment.
Chrysler saw an opportunity to put the up-start in their place, but Ranieri’s claim is way off base for a number of reasons.
First off, Chrysler isn’t exactly an American company anymore. As Tesla CEO Elon Musk noted in a Tweet yesterday, Chrysler is now a subsidiary of the Italian giant Fiat, after buying the company following their 2009 bankruptcy.
Second, while Chrysler paid off all $11.2 billion that the U.S. government expected from them (Fiat paid it, actually) six years earlier than necessary, that still left $1.3 billion that will never be recouped. For those keeping score at home, the Tesla loan brought taxpayers a $12 million profit, and the Chrysler loan brought them a $1.3 billion loss.
The auto industry bailout saved thousands of jobs, several iconic American brands and perhaps even the economy itself. Chrysler should be confident with the fact that they’ve used that money wisely and paid off what they could. But they tried to pick on Junior and instead opened up an ugly can of worms. Next time, tell us less about your shaky financial past and much more about what has come out of it. We’re going to go back and read our review of the 2013 SRT Viper now.
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