Back in July, we told you about Tesla’s Model S – the electric-powered, aluminum-built car that the company considered to be its flagship model following its June release. It impressed critics then, but as we’re closing out the 2012 calendar year, it’s done more than just impress critics — it’s won awards. Big awards, too – like Automobile Magazine’s 2013 Automobile Of The Year. Yeah, that’s pretty significant.

“We can’t say for certain whether Tesla will be able to make that happen. The auto industry is tough enough for a giant like General Motors. What we can say with this award is that Tesla deserves to succeed. It has managed to blend the innovation of a Silicon Valley start-up, the execution of a world-class automaker, and, yes, the chutzpah of its visionary leader. The result is the Model S. It’s not vaporware. It’s our Automobile of the Year.”

Now, to be fair, Automobile Magazine doesn’t mention the word “aluminum” once in its Automobile Of The Year article. Instead, it talks about things like performance, handling, speed, and features. But perhaps that omission is one of the biggest compliments the aluminum materials can receive. After all, if a car’s aluminum chassis can merely be part of the manufacturing process rather than a design revolution, that means that it just might be ready for mainstream acceptance.

With many car manufacturers already looking at aluminum as part of their body manufacturing process, this is more validation that the industry’s on the right path – and with aluminum’s combination of strength and lightweight appeal, safety awards and better MPG aren’t far behind.