You have to hand it to Terry McAuliffe. He goes straight to the top.

McAuliffe, former and perhaps future Democratic gubernatorial candidate, called Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) after the Republican Party of Virginia blasted McAuliffe’s hybrid and electric car venture last week.

“All is not as it appears, according to the automotive industry press,” the party wrote in its press release. “They take a dim view of McAuliffe’s enterprise, including calling his plan and claims ‘not credible.’ ”

Employees of McAuliffe’s Northern Virginia-based company wrote a letter to party chairman Pat Mullins and copied McDonnell.

“In a time when economic conditions trouble the nation, we would expect the Republican Party of Virginia to rise above partisan politics and encourage a reinvigoration of manufacturing in America, putting people back to work, and showing pride in our collective resolve,’’ wrote Alan Himelfarb, GreenTech Automotive executive vice president.

McDonnell can’t run for a second term and has backed Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling for the job. McAuliffe, as everyone knows, is considering a second run for governor in 2013. He is also is working to reopen a shuttered paper mill and help Democratic candidates in November’s legislative elections.

McAuliffe spokesman Levar Stoney declined to comment. McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin said he could not comment on private conversations.