The Twitter messages are once again flying from Tesla Motors.
In a Wednesday announcement, the Palo Alto, Calif., automaker said it had paid off the entire loan made to the company by the Energy Department — and added that it was “the only American car company to have fully repaid the government.”
Within hours, Gualberto Ranieri, a senior vice president at Chrysler, responded on Chrysler’s blog: “The information is unmistakably incorrect. It’s pretty well-known that almost exactly two years ago – May 24, 2011 – Chrysler Group LLC repaid (in full and with interest) U.S. and Canadian government loans more than six years ahead of time.” Chrysler also responded via Twitter.
“Not so fast, Tesla,” says @chrysler comm chief, re claims it’s first to repay U.S. govt. @teslamotorsbit.ly/14zB6sJ #shortciruit
— Chrysler (@Chrysler) May 23, 2013
Elon Musk, Tesla’s chief executive and a Twitter regular, responded, saying: “As many have already noted, @Chrysler is a division of Fiat, an Italian company. We specifically said first *US* company.” And later, he added: “More importantly, @Chrysler failed to pay back $1.38B. Apart those 2 points you were totally 1st.”
Tim Rue/Bloomberg News
Mr. Musk’s second Twitter message is in reference to a portion of Chrysler’s TARP loan that was assigned to the old Chrysler when the United States government sold its stake in the newly organized Chrysler Group LLC to Fiat SpA. Of the $12.5 billion the government had loaned the old Chrysler, approximately $1.3 billion was left behind. On June 2, 2011, the United States Treasury said in a statement that it was “unlikely to recover the difference of $1.3 billion owed by Old Chrysler.”
Asked to respond to Mr. Musk’s contention that Chrysler Group LLC is not an American company, Mr. Ranieri, in a telephone interview, said: “I don’t have any response to that. Chrysler Group LLC is the company of Walter Chrysler, and it speaks for itself for what it does.”
When asked if he could expand on that, Mr. Ranieri added, “I love espresso ristretto, so I don’t have anything more to add.”