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Tesla waves arrivederci to federal loans, calls Chrysler un-American

Tesla Model S

Looks like we have quite the little scuffle on our hands between Tesla and Chrysler.

Last night, Tesla announced that it had officially repaid – nine years early – its $465-million loan from the Department of Energy, bragging it was the first U.S. company to do so.

This morning, Chrysler exerted that it was in fact the first automaker to repay its government loans, not Tesla.

Never one to take a fight lying down, Tesla founder Elon Musk fired back on Twitter saying, “As many have already noted, Chrysler is a division of Fiat, an Italian company. We specifically said first ‘U.S.’ company. More importantly, Chrysler failed to pay back $1.3B. Apart (from) those 2 points, you were totally 1st.”

In a Detroit News interview, Chrysler spokesman Gualberto Ranieri said: “I am the first to understand that this is open to an endless debate. Technically, Chrysler was the first to repay its government loans, General Motors was the second.”

It at least warrants a chuckle that the Chrysler spokesperson chosen to reinforce Chrysler’s American standing has perhaps one of the most Italian sounding names of all time. Oh the irony!

So why did Tesla repay the loans with such expediency? Apparently, some potential customers were off-put by the DOE loan hanging over Tesla’s head. “It just felt right” to repay the loans early, Musk told Bloomberg news. “I just feel better having done it.”