STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. — With a few computer keystrokes in an office at its headquarters, ChryslerGroup LLC sent $7.6 billion to the U.S. and Canadian governments on Tuesday, paying off most of the bailout money that saved the company from financial disaster just two years ago.
The repayment — expected for weeks — is a huge step in the automaker’s unlikely comeback. Chrysler went from a company that almost ran out of cash and survived a 2009 bankruptcy to one that is revamping its aging lineup and last quarter posted its first net profit in five years.
It removes the stigma of being a government ward. But it also means the company must stand on its own and continue to overhaul a lineup that still depends on old Chrysler designs and larger vehicles that have fallen out of favor due to high gasoline prices.
Chrysler took $10.5 billion from the U.S. government to survive two years ago and earlier had repaid some of the money. On Tuesday, it retired a $5.9 billion balance on the U.S. loans and $1.7 billion to the governments of Canada and Ontario.