LOS ANGELES (Bloomberg) -- California drivers are fueling the sale of rechargeable cars in the U.S. with more than 100,000 sold in the state in the last four years, representing about 40 percent of the domestic plug-in market.

Sales of hybrid and battery-only cars in the Golden State totaled 102,440 in the period from December 2010 through last month, the California Plug-In Electric Vehicle Collaborative said today, citing figures from the California Air Resources Board, Hybridcars.com and Baum & Associates. Over the same time frame, about 250,000 rechargeable autos were sold in the U.S., according to industry researcher Baum.

California since the 1970s has pressured automakers to offer vehicles with lower tailpipe emissions to curb smog and poor air quality. From 2009, the state has set tougher new standards requiring cars that emit less carbon pollution under its Zero-Emission Vehicle program, leading to a new generation of plug-in models from General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co., Nissan Motor Co. and Tesla Motors Inc.

“Automakers are proving on a daily basis that they can rise to the challenge to meet California’s clean vehicle standards, advance the technology, and provide a wide range of affordable cars,” Mary Nichols, who chairs the California Air Resources Board, said in the statement.

At least 10 percent of rechargeable car sales in California belong to Palo Alto, Calif.-based Tesla, which was started in 2003 and produces the luxury $71,000 Model S. Sales of the sedan have totaled 10,834 over the 18 months through June 30.

Going green

Passing 100,000 in sales of hybrid cars is a milestone for California. Under Gov. Jerry Brown, the most populous U.S. state has set a target of 1.5 million rechargeable cars on its roads by 2025.

California’s push for sales of plug-in hybrids, including GM’s Volt and Ford’s Fusion and C-Max models, and battery-only cars such as Nissan’s Leaf and Tesla’s Model S is being amplified by seven other states that set their own volume goals this year.

In total, California, New York, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont want more than three million zero-emission vehicles purchased in the next decade.

The Obama administration has a target of 1 million plug-in car sales by the end of 2015. By the end of this year, such sales may reach almost 300,000, according to analyst Alan Baum, whose suburban Detroit firm tracks sales data.

“California really pushed to get this market going, but its share will drop as certain mass-market models that were initially sold only in state are introduced more broadly across the country,” Baum said.

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