Car Fight: Chrysler Calls Out Tesla – Who Paid Up First?

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

Ommm – ummmm

The first thing they drummed into me when I started as a copywriter for Volkswagen: “Never use superlatives. They only get you in trouble.” Now, Elon Musk is in trouble over who was first to fully pay back the government loan.

Yesterday, Tesla wired $452 million to repay the remaining portion of its DOE loan with interest. The company told Reuters it is “the only American car company to have fully repaid the government.”

Chrysler fired back four hours later: “Not exactly, Tesla.”

Having repaid $7.6 billion in federal loans in 2011, Chrysler said today : “Tesla’s information is unmistakably incorrect.”

Musk went on Twitter and came back with a retort that will enrage red, white and blueblooded Chrysler fans. He said Chrysler is no U.S. car company, it is a division of Fiat and besides, Chrysler never fully repaid its loans.

Says Reuters: “The U.S. government recouped about $11.2 billion of its funds. In 2011, Treasury said it is unlikely to fully recover $1.3 billion owed by Old Chrysler.”

All I can say: Stay away from superlatives. They only get you in trouble.

Bertel Schmitt
Bertel Schmitt

Bertel Schmitt comes back to journalism after taking a 35 year break in advertising and marketing. He ran and owned advertising agencies in Duesseldorf, Germany, and New York City. Volkswagen A.G. was Bertel's most important corporate account. Schmitt's advertising and marketing career touched many corners of the industry with a special focus on automotive products and services. Since 2004, he lives in Japan and China with his wife <a href=""> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href=""> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.

More by Bertel Schmitt

Join the conversation
6 of 37 comments
  • Danio3834 Danio3834 on May 23, 2013

    Chrysler paid back what they were legally obligated to first. And yes, as already pointed out, they are a registered U.S. corporation. They are not a division of Fiat, Fiat is a majority stockholder. Musk is really making himself out to be a blaggard by trying to boost his own company's reputation by spouting off falsehoods.

    • See 3 previous
    • Danio3834 Danio3834 on May 24, 2013

      @Thinkin... Perhaps. Why do you people seem to think this is some sort of revelation? There are some differences between Chrysler and Toyonda of America. Where the global headquarters of their parent corporations are, where the R&D activites are centered and where most of the profits end up, if any of that even matters to you at all. Chrysler is registered as a U.S. corporation with it's headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan. The profits go there. When/if a full Fiat merger takes place, sources indicate that Fiat will move it's global headquarters to Auburn Hills, not the other way around. Then by the definition of some, will Fiat become an American company? Semantics.

  • Porschespeed Porschespeed on May 24, 2013

    Tesla's over $1B (currently, not counting unfunded liabilities) in the hole to investors. Profitable so that investors get paid back with a return? Never in a bazillion years. Just like GM-Episode II...

  • GregLocock Not interested at all. Apparently I've got Apple car play but I've never used it in 3 years. The built in nav is ok.
  • Corey Lewis Probably worth about what they're asking, given its condition. The color combo isn't a desirable one, they look sharper in non-beige shades. Like two-tone green, maroon, navy, or gray. The end of the time when MB built its cars properly. No shame in turning up in a clean W126, they'll always command respect.
  • Lou_BC Another way to look at this is the upgrading of hardware and software. ...............The average length of car ownership is 10 - 12 years ....................The average lifetime ownership of a cell phone is 2.5 years. ................................................................... My phone will remain up to date, my vehicle won't. Especially if you buy a new "end of run" model.
  • TheEndlessEnigma "...we could be seeing a foundational shift in how Americans and car buyers see Stellantis products." yeah, I view Stellantis products as being off the cross-shop list. Stellantis is doing an excellent job of killing the Chrysler and Dodge brands and turning Jeep into something it isn't.
  • 2manyvettes 495 hp in a base C8 is more than enough. 800+ hp in a ZR1 is not worth the extra $60k (plus dealer markups). Unless the buyer is going for bragging rights. I remember when the C7 Grand Sport came out, and a reviewer got his hands on one and put it on the track at Lime Rock. His conclusion? Save yourself $15k and skip the Z06 and get a Grand Sport.