The Bay Area as Car Manufacturing Hub

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 03: Traffic backs up on Interstate 880 September 3, 2010 in Oakland, California. AAA estimates that over 34 million people will drive fifty miles or more from home over the Labor Day holiday weekend, a ten percent increase over last year. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

    Gas prices too expensive? That's okay, here come more electric cars.

    A new electric car plant is set to open in Benicia, with possibly a sister plant near car-addled Los Angeles. The plant could create about 100 jobs, and add an additional 14,000 cars to the roads each year. And you thought traffic was bad now.

    It's being called the latest entry into the Bay Area's "green" jobs economy -- but of course, electric cars aren't necessarily better for the environment. The electricity still has to be generated someplace, after all, whether by coal, nuclear or maybe even a tiny bit of solar. But since power plants burn their fossil fuels someplace very far away, it's easy to pretend that you've eliminated your carbon footprint. Just try not to think about all the emissions released by the manufacturing process, not to mention the destructive mining required to extract the metals for car batteries.

    The plant would be run by Amports and Coda Automotive and would receive nearly-finished cars built in China. After a few additions, the vehicles would get around 100 miles per gallon.

    Meanwhile, many more non-electric cars will be arriving soon, courtesy of Honda. The company just opened a port facility in Richmond, and is expected to import 145,000 of the deadly steel machines per year. This, too, has been hailed as a "green" innovation, since the port will reduce the need for truck travel. But it won't reduce fuels burned by ships, or by those hundreds of thousands of individual vehicles.