Fiat Chrysler Wriggles Out From Under Past-due Loan by Outwaiting the Government

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
fiat chrysler wriggles out from under past due loan by outwaiting the government

It took years, but Fiat Chrysler Automobiles finally unburdened itself from the weight of an unpaid loan by waiting until the government grew tired and gave up. Not that the automaker’s pursuer ever expected to recoup the cash.

It was revealed this week that Canada, which sunk nearly $14 billion into General Motors and Chrysler during the depths of the recession, quietly wrote off a $2.6 billion (CAD) loan made to Chrysler in 2009. It’s not the last bit of money owed to that country’s government by the two automakers, but it is a major outstanding chunk. In its defence, the feds didn’t have a hope in hell of getting the loan repaid, as the company that received it no longer exists.

“After exhausting all potential avenues for recovery, a $1.125 billion US principal plus accrued interest write-off in respect of ‘Old Chrysler’ occurred in March,” John Babcock of Global Affairs Canada told the CBC.

Documents show the money was loaned to Chrysler LLC in March, 2009. The entity that sprung up in the defunct automaker’s wake, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, did pay back a $1.7 billion loan in 2011. Further plumbing of the country’s finances shows an outstanding $1 billion-plus loan to the “Old GM” administered by Export Development Canada in April of 2009.

In 2015, the country’s government, which purchased GM stock to keep it afloat, sold its remaining 73.4 million shares to Goldman, Sachs & Co.

The revelation of the Chrysler write-off prompted anger among fiscal transparency types north of the border. Like in the U.S., the bailout left taxpayers on the hook for billions, but the picture of who owes what is more opaque in Canada. It’s estimated that Canada lost $3.7 billion on the deal. The U.S. Treasury said in 2014 that the total loss to American taxpayers was $9.26 billion.

News of the write-off would likely have garnered even more acrimony, had the feds not abstained from the same kind of corporate welfare enjoyed by Ford and Toyota in recent years. FCA has, however, seen recent funding from the Ontario government.

Two FCA assembly plants in Ontario crank out the Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Pacifica minivans, as well as the rear-drive Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger sedans and Dodge Challenger coupe.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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  • Malforus Malforus on Oct 25, 2018

    Steph how are you calculating losses for the US bailout? Obviously if you are counting opportunity costs and underperformance of "Real" value pegged to inflation I could see an argument for a negative return. That said in dollars perspective the bailout generated profit (though you can argue very clearly about the profit not being enough to deal with the systemic implications of government involving themselves in the market to that degree). The bottom line though if you divorce policy arguments is that the bailout made money for the US, at the expense of other externalities but top to bottom it got more money back than it lent out.

  • Pwrwrench Pwrwrench on Oct 29, 2018

    "The bottom line though if you divorce policy arguments is that the bailout made money for the US, at the expense of other externalities but top to bottom it got more money back than it lent out." Guess who paid that "bailout" money back to the "US"? That's right, everyone that bought anything from FCA. So as usual it's a big circular joke. I recall reading the back pages of the business news during 2007-2011. FCA at least broke even, if not coming out ahead, on the 'purchase' of Chrysler. Much of the money coming from USA taxpayers was run through things like "manufacturing employee re-training" or other scams. I imagine Lee Ayatollah is getting a big laugh out of the whole thing. He got the taxpayers to kick in billions, in today's money, to keep Chrysler from going under in 1980. Yeah I know it was a "loan guarantee". However as part of the package, among other things, Chrysler paid past due bills to suppliers at 7 cents, or less, on the dollar. So it goes.... Corporate welfare ad infinitum.

  • Brett Woods My 4-Runner had a manual with the 4-cylinder. It was acceptable but not really fun. I have thought before that auto with a six cylinder would have been smoother, more comfortable, and need less maintenance. Ditto my 4 banger manual Japanese pick-up. Nowhere near as nice as a GM with auto and six cylinders that I tried a bit later. Drove with a U.S. buddy who got one of the first C8s. He said he didn't even consider a manual. There was an article about how fewer than ten percent of buyers optioned a manual in the U.S. when they were available. Visited my English cousin who lived in a hilly suburb and she had a manual Range Rover and said she never even considered an automatic. That's culture for you.  Miata, Boxster, Mustang, Corvette and Camaro; I only want manual but I can see both sides of the argument for a Mustang, Camaro or Challenger. Once you get past a certain size and weight, cruising with automatic is a better dynamic. A dual clutch automatic is smoother, faster, probably more reliable, and still allows you to select and hold a gear. When you get these vehicles with a high performance envelope, dual-clutch automatic is what brings home the numbers. 
  • ToolGuy 2019 had better comments than 2023 😉
  • Inside Looking Out In June 1973, Leonid Brezhnev arrived in Washington for his second summit meeting with President Richard Nixon. Knowing of the Soviet leader’s fondness for luxury automobiles, Nixon gave him a shiny Lincoln Continental. Brezhnev was delighted with the present and insisted on taking a spin around Camp David, speeding through turns while the president nervously asked him to slow down.
  • Bobby D'Oppo Great sound and smooth power delivery in a heavier RWD or AWD vehicle is a nice blend, but current V8 pickup trucks deliver an unsophisticated driving experience. I think a modern full-size pickup could be very well suited to a manual transmission.In reality, old school, revvy atmo engines pair best with manual transmissions because it's so rewarding to keep them in the power band on a winding road. Modern turbo engines have flattened the torque curve and often make changing gears feel more like a chore.
  • Chuck Norton For those worried about a complex power train-What vehicle doesn't have one? I drive a twin turbo F-150 (3.5) Talk about complexity.. It seems reliability based on the number of F-150s sold is a non-issue. As with many other makes/models. I mean how many operations are handle by micro today's vehicles?