Tesla Motors, the American maker of luxury electric cars, has been riding a wave of good publicity.
Its Model S sedan (base priced at $62,400, after federal tax credits) was just named Motor Trend Car of the Year. Reviewers at Consumer Reports gave the lithium-ion battery powered vehicle a rave.
And the company, headed by billionaire innovator Elon Musk, 41, posted a profit for the first time in its 10-year history — powered in part by zero-emission environmental credits.
But Tesla also finds itself, and its business model, under sustained attack by a formidable foe: the National Automobile Dealers Association, one of the most powerful lobbying groups in Washington with a strong network of state chapters.