Mitch Bainwol (right), president and CEO of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, takes the stage at the auto show with other industry association executives to discuss their policy priorities for 2013. They make quite a crew, he says.

"I don't know if we're supposed to be the Temptations, the offensive line of the Baltimore Ravens or Chippendale dancers. Actually, we're auto executives!”

Eye Opener

Opening the annual Society of Automotive Engineers Government/Industry meeting, which runs alongside the Washington auto show, NHTSA chief David Strickland makes his second address to engineers and policy makers.

His first speech to the group occurred in 2010 just weeks after his appointment and his first public appearance as the agency's administrator. It was also the height of the Toyota recall scandal, CAFE for 2025 was a hot topic and the industry still was recovering from the recession.

"I thought I could ease my way into office," Strickland recalls, "but I ended up at this big event with a whole lot of press."

Like Fine Wine

SAE President Donald Hillebrand presents this year's Barry D. McNutt Award for Excellence in Automotive Policy Analysis to Kevin Green of the DOT. Green has played a role in a number of fuel-saving and emissions-trimming policies during his career, capped by leading the team setting CAFE standards for 2025.

But McNutt’s award elicits a head shake from Hillebrand. "You know you're getting old when the names on the awards are people you worked with."

Home Sweet Home

Opening the Washington auto show with a keynote address, Audi America President and native New Yorker Scott Keogh reflects on the differences between his two homes.

"Nothing was thrown at me this morning, so that's a good start to the day," he says.

Audi America's move to nearby Herndon, VA, from Detroit four years ago also has proved wise. Since late 2008, the auto maker's sales in the Washington region have surged 127%.