Electric vehicle start-up Tesla Motors Inc.

sparked a war of words with Chrysler Group LLC on Wednesday after Tesla said it was the "only American car company to have fully repaid the government."

The maker of the plug-in Model S sedan became the first recipient of a U.S. Energy Department vehicle loan to pay off its debt of $451.8 million — nine years ahead of schedule, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company said Wednesday in a U.S. regulatory filing.

But Chrysler cried foul and issued a playful retort.

"The information is unmistakably incorrect," wrote Chrysler spokesman Gualberto Ranieri on a company blog. "Question: short memory or short circuit?

"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 schedule."

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