--The war of words between electric vehicle startup Tesla Motors and Chrysler Group LLC over which was the first U.S. automaker to repay taxpayers heated up Thursday.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk touted on Wednesday the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company's repayment of its $465 million U.S. Energy Department loan as the "only American car company to have fully repaid the government."

The maker of the Model S electric vehicle said it was first recipient of an auto retooling loan to pay off its remaining debt -- $451.8 million -- which was nine years ahead of schedule. Musk told Bloomberg News that taxpayers earned about $17 million in interest.

Chrysler cried foul.

"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."

Musk noted in two tweets on Thursday that Chrysler is majority-owned by Italian automaker Fiat SpA -- and that taxpayers lost $1.3 billion on the bailout of Chrysler.

"As many have already noted, Chrysler is a division of Fiat, an Italian company. We specifically said first 'U.S.' company," Musk wrote on Twitter. "More importantly, Chrysler failed to pay back $1.3B. Apart (from) those 2 points, you were totally 1st."

Ranieri didn't back down.

In a Detroit News interview Thursday, Ranieri reiterated that the new company Chrysler Group LLC had repaid everything it owed. He noted at the time of the May 2011 repayment that Fiat SpA held less than 50 percent of Chrysler. He compared the issue to a person with the same last name. "If you get a loan from Bank of America, Chase or Citibank, you are responsible for what you owe -- not someone else sharing the same last name."

He said Musk's comments were part of the "silly season... The whole thing is pretty ridiculous."

But he added: "I am the first to understand that this is open to an endless debate. Technically, Chrysler was the first to repay its government loans, General Motors was the second," Ranieri said.

Chrysler Group LLC did pay everything back that was asked of it. But in late 2008, Chrysler LLC, then owned by Cerberus Capital Management LP, was saved from collapse by $12.5 billion in U.S. government bailouts.

In 2009, the U.S. government formed Chrysler Group in a sale of old Chrysler's "good assets" to form a new company run and owned by Italian automaker Fiat SpA, leaving behind billions in loans to old Chrysler that didn't need to be repaid. In total, the U.S. Treasury recouped $11.2 billion, including from the sale of its interest in Chrysler Financial Inc.

As the U.S. Treasury said in a 2011 statement, the government "is unlikely to fully recover the difference of $1.3 billion owed by Old Chrysler."

Chrysler had separately applied for billions of dollars in loans from the same program Tesla tapped and eventually pared down its application to about $3 billion. After years of talks, Chrysler abandoned its request in February 2012.

Musk said he repaid the loans early "because it felt right" and that some potential customers didn't want to buy a Tesla because of the government loan. "We did receive quite a lot of flack for it," Musk told Bloomberg News. "I just feel better having done it."