It’s now official: aluminum is the best choice for car manufacturers to increase fuel efficiency and reduce their carbon footprint. How official? Try the United States Department of Energy. The DoE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory just released findings from a study regarding energy reduction in car manufacturing. Some of the highlights, courtesy of the Fort Mill Times:

Reducing vehicle weight with aluminum can result in the lowest total vehicle lifecycle environmental impact – cradle-to-grave – as compared to both traditional and advanced steels.

An aluminum-intensive vehicle can achieve up to a 32 percent reduction in total lifecycle energy consumption, and up to a 29 percent reduction in CO2 emissions, compared to a typical vehicle on the road today which uses traditional and high-strength steel in the body construction.

While a lightweight steel vehicle has a lower production phase environmental impact, those initial gains are erased by higher energy use and carbon emissions during the steel vehicle’s use phase.

More than 90 percent of automobile energy consumption and carbon emissions occurs during the vehicle’s use phase, with the mining, production and manufacturing phases accounting for just 10 percent or less.

For an aluminum intensive vehicle, the breakeven point in its use phase for making up the energy consumed during the initial production phase is 9,300 miles – of which most automobiles on U.S. roads would reach in their first year of operation.

For more information, visit the Aluminum Association’s Drive Aluminum site.