For all the Republican blather about keeping gas prices down with domestic production, pretty soon the U.S.’s effect on the market price of oil will be totally swamped by demand from the developing world. As energy futurist Chris Nelder observes at Txchnologist, nowhere is this trend better exemplified than the fact that auto sales in China recently exceeded auto sales in the U.S.

Chart source: Feng An, Innovation Center for Energy and Transportation, Beijing, 2010.

The sheer number of vehicles being added in Asia means a whole new level of competition for oil. It’s a competition that Asia will almost surely win, and will probably do more to drive the adoption of electric cars in the U.S. than any policy or tax credit.

When oil gets expensive, we turn to alternatives to cars — Americans are already taking up mass transit in record numbers. With a jillion new cars on the road in China, vying for limited resources, electric cars and hybrids are going to start looking pretty sweet.

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