This is how the century-long dominance of gas-powered vehicles ends: not with a bang, but with a widget. By 2014, the world's best-selling hybrid vehicle will have plug-in capability, standard, which means every trip up to 14 miles will be all-electric, all the time.

This move to plug-in-standard vehicles is a harbinger of a future in which the automotive fleet doesn't switch over to electric all at once, but piecemeal, as manufacturers learn to harness new tech and economies of scale, and batteries drop in price as a result. Important to this transition is Toyota's switch to the more energy-dense type of batteries that are already used in laptops, cell phones, and other mobile devices: lithium-ion.

Until we get some kind of crazy zinc-air battery or something like that, Li-ion is the chemistry that will take us into a gasoline-free future. Maybe Deutsche Bank is right, and changes to the automotive fleet like these mean we'll leave oil before it leaves us. And if not, then hey, these things will sell like hotcakes. Delicious, plug-in hotcakes.

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