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Nissan, Mazda, Obama administration among early newsmakers at Washington Auto Show

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A day ahead of its official opening, the Washington Auto Show on Thursday welcomed journalists from around the country to take a peek inside the pavilion — and several of the world’s major automakers took the opportunity to unveil some of their latest projects and technologies.

The show, considered a stage for automotive policy discussions and green car technology, included several announcements highlighting advances and new initiatives in the areas of sustainable energy, fuel efficiency and reduced emissions, though some of the car companies took a different road.

Gallery: America’s newest cars on display in Washington

Here are some of the highlights from media day at the 2013 Washington Auto Show:

Mazda nabs green tech prize: Besting nine other finalists, Mazda was awarded the inaugural Green Car Technology Award for its SkyActiv suite of technologies, which range from new engines to low-friction transmissions to lighter frames. The company believes the innovations will improve its cars’ fuel efficiency by 30 percent by 2015.

Nissan, NRG building electric infrastructure: Nissan is partnering with NRG Energy’s eVgo network of electric vehicle charging stations to build 500 rapid-charge stations across the country, including 200 in California and 40 in the Washington metro region, hoping to broaden the appeal of fully electric vehicles.

Ford promoting youth innovation, creativity: The Ford Motor Company announced that it’s donating a half million dollars to the Smithsonian Institute’s Spark!Lab program, which offers children the chance to collaborate and build in a setting designed to resemble an inventor’s workshop.

Obama adds new electric vehicle partners: The Obama administration shared its own bit of news at media day, with Department of Energy Secretary Stephen Chu announcing that 13 large businesses and 8 groups have embraced President Obama’s Workplace Charging Challenge and will begin researching and implementing plans to add electric vehicle charging stations at one of their workplace locations.

For full coverage of the Washington Auto Show, check out The Grid.

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