In the ongoing spat between Tesla and Chrysler Group as to who was the first American automaker to repay government loans, there is only one winner: Chrysler. If the most recent repayment won't satisfy Elon Musk, there is an earlier one that is not open to dispute.
In a big New York City ceremony on August 12, 1983, when Elon Musk was 12, Lee Iacocca appeared with a super-sized check for $813,487,500. It represented the final payment on $1.2 billion in federally guaranteed loans.
Chrysler repaid its government loans, in full and with all interest due, seven years early. At the time, Chrysler was, as it still is, an American car company.