Chrysler has paid back $7.6bn (£4.6bn) in US and Canadian government loans from its 2009 bailout.
At an assembly plant in suburban Detroit, where Chrysler builds the Chrysler 200 and Dodge Avenger cars, hundreds of workers marked the event by sporting red, white and blue buttons that read: “Paid. May 24, 2011.”
Sergio Marchionne, the chief executive of both Chrysler and Fiat, told the crowd: “We received confirmation this morning at 10:13 a.m. from Citigroup that Chrysler Group repaid, with interest … every penny that had been loaned less than two years ago.”
Chrysler said it transferred $5.9bn to the US Treasury and $1.7bn to the governments of Canada and Ontario to repay loans it received in June 2009.
In London, president Barack Obama called the payback a “significant milestone” and a sign the US auto industry was recovering.
The repayment puts Chrysler on firmer financial ground and draws it closer to Fiat, two goals that investors and bankers have said would make Chrysler more attractive in an initial public offering that could come this year or next.
The automaker said it repaid the original loans in full, more than six years ahead of schedule. Under the original terms, Chrysler had until 2017 to repay the debt.