Five years ago, almost to the day, I debunked the widespread national coverage at the time announcing that the world had hit Peak Oil and that crude production was already falling, and therefore oil prices were skyrocketing. Doing so meant flying in the most visible face of the Peak Oil crowd for the previous few years, that of T. Boone Pickens.It took five columns, but I carefully laid out the facts as to oil production and demand worldwide; I showed that there was in fact a growing surplus of oil against demand and that what had distorted the price of crude in the market was speculators in commodities trading. And back in early 2008, what I had written was considered petroleum market heresy and a blatant disregard for "the facts." But, before the year was out, the Energy Tribune published an apology to me for that judgment, saying that in fact I had been right.On March 7, 2013, Oil Voice carried a Dave Cohen column that started with the admission, "Back in 2006 - 2007 when I was writing about peak oil, I would never have believed that U.S. crude oil production would reach 7 million barrels per day in the last month of 2012." Cohen went on to point out that this was the highest volume of U. S. oil production since 1992. I'll go him one better: U.S. oil production in the last two months of 2012 was identical to our oil production in 1960.Although we are still far below the 1970 peak of 9.6 million barrels per day, our current rate of oil extraction makes Hubbert's Theory of Peak Oil - and the media's nonstop coverage of his theory, for decades - completely wrong. At least, for now.Premature Cheerleading?The day before Cohen's Oil Voice column, Dee-An Durbin of the Associated Press discussed the rise in sales for natural gas powered vehicles. In her column Durbin stated, "Ford Motor Co. says it sold a record 11,600 natural gas vehicles last year, more than four times the number it sold two years ago. It's the latest sign that natural gas is making inroads as a transportation fuel, particularly for truck fleets, buses and taxis."Durbin also reported that Honda claimed to be seeing more interest in its natural gas powered Civic, with "record U.S. sales of nearly 2,000 last year," and quoted GM CEO Dan Akerson's CERA Energy Conference speech, in which he said GM too would be offering trucks with natural gas capability. But possibly the most important line in Ms. Durbin's column was her finding that natural gas prices for vehicles varied nationally from the gasoline gallon equivalent of $1.79 to $3.49 per gallon. That's an incredible price spread for fuel, particularly when it takes an extremely expensive option to allow vehicles to run on something other than gasoline.What I found most interesting is that her column was mostly a positive portrayal of the future for natural gas powered vehicles. The sales numbers (and past press coverage) don't inspire such optimism: The Chevrolet Volt sold 23, 461 copies last year - more than double Ford's national fleet of natural gas powered vehicles - but in the press the Volt took a beating. Come to think of it, Nissan had just come off a year where its all-electric Leaf sold within 2,000 units of what Ford has sold in natural gas powered vehicles (70,000 total sales worldwide to date), and yet its press coverage too was just this side of snide.Balance and AdaptabilityGM's Akerson, while promoting the fact that GM would deliver more natural gas powered vehicles to the market, also discussed electric cars that week. In fact, GM is working on two different paths for electric cars, one with a solid 100-mile range and another that could go 200 miles. For what it's worth, GM has already introduced the 80-mile-range electric Chevy Spark. Not surprisingly, then, Akerson was quoted in the March 7, 2013, Wall Street Journal as saying, "... the era of using electricity to help improve performance and fuel economy is here and the trend is only going to grow."Confused because experts are promoting both natural gas and electric cars; meanwhile, oil production is way up and yet gas prices are way up; and so on? Well, don't be. What we are witnessing is a return to the Nineties; manufacturers are back to looking at all possible fuels of the future. Or more accurately, they're exploring variations of what may be the fuels of the future for worldwide motoring. It might be a smart thing, however, if we put a little balance into the discussion, right about now.First, why is it that so many people are pushing a natural gas powered vehicle - when their cost tops gasoline-powered ones' by $8,000 to $9,000 each - but "the smart money" bashes electric cars because of the batteries' similarly high cost? That cost is not much more per vehicle than converting a known platform to use natural gas.Moreover, according to Alt Fuel Prices.com, there is only one public station in Fort Worth that carries natural gas, but fully 10 within 25 miles of our city. That's a long way to drive to fill up, yet every house in Fort Worth has an electric outlet in the garage to recharge an electric car. So which option offers more convenience?Of course, this is not meant to say that one should favor an electric car over natural gas, or even the gasoline that every family uses today (while complaining about the high cost of gas). What it should highlight is that all of us could be on the cusp of something truly exciting in personal transportation over the next decade. At the same time, the promises and pitfalls of natural gas and electricity to power our vehicles are almost identical - and yet opinions on those two types of vehicles could not be much more divergent than they are.All of these promises for future fuels continue to run up against the reality of buyer preferences. Because whether we like it or not, we do get used to the higher price of gasoline. Case in point: As I mentioned earlier, the average cost of gasoline exceeded $4 a gallon in California for all of 2012, but new car sales there posted a 23.4 percent increase.It gets better. The first week of March the San Diego Union Tribune published two stories, one covering the fact that gasoline prices had dropped a couple of cents per gallon to "only" $4.29, the other pointing out that new car sales had jumped another 28 percent in San Diego in January.The most remarkable trait of the human race explains our success on the planet. True, we complain; but we are even better at something else: Adapting.The Adolescence of ElectrificationThere has been a change in propulsion units, and Dan Akerson was right to point that out. The electrification of the automobile is here and has been, ever since Toyota started selling its Prius in Japan in 1997 and Honda brought out the Insight in 1999. It's continued with the Chevrolet Volt and the recently introduced Ford C-Max - and any number of variations of hybrid electric cars, from the Ford Fusion to the new Lexus ES-300h. Even now, if you counted the pure electric and hybrid models available for sale, you would be stunned to find the total well over 40. And more are on the way.Personally, I don't see much of a future for natural gas powered cars. Adding the infrastructure to make refueling truly convenient for everyone would cost far too much - and that's on top of those vehicles' higher prices. But I can see where corporate and government fleets, which can install their own CNG stations, would make sense.And on the other hand, the more I study it, the more Liquefied Natural Gas looks like it could play a more dominant role in fueling railroads and short distance trucking in the future.However, now that Nissan is rolling the price back on its all-electric Leaf by $7,000, it's going to be interesting to see where sales take it this year.The Trend Will ContinueWhen all the smoke and hype clears from the discussion on the cars of the future, it's likely that the long-term upward trend already in place for either hybrid electric or series hybrid cars will continue. After all, the Toyota Prius was the best selling car in California last year; and worldwide only the Corolla and Ford Focus outsell it. Just a decade ago the Prius was a niche car that most new car buyers disdained.And maybe none of this matters at all. As the 79 million Baby Boomers retire, the number of miles they drive per year will drop dramatically. So their overall cost for gasoline drops, no matter what the price at the pump. Likewise, rather than cruise down to the local burger joint to meet and greet everyone, as we did decades ago, the youngest generation is more likely to use a cell phone and text someone.Everything I read that speculates on the cars of the future keeps missing the point: They are already here. And their sales numbers are growing quickly.© Ed Wallace 2013Ed Wallace is a recipient of the Gerald R. Loeb Award for business journalism, given by the Anderson School of Business at UCLA, and is a member of the American Historical Association. He hosts the top-rated talk show, Wheels, 8:00 to 1:00 Saturdays on 570 KLIF AM. E-mail: email@example.com, and read all of Ed's work at www.insideautomotive.com.