While there are just a few thousand electric vehicles in the United States today -- 1 million electric vehicles in California would still be a small percentage of the state's total vehicle fleet of more than 32 million cars and trucks.
But California has about 200,000 hybrid vehicles -- the most of any state.
By the 2018 model year, California plans to require automakers to build a larger number of zero-emission vehicles -- either from fuel cells or fully electric vehicles. The Air Resources Board plans to finalize how many emission-free vehicles it requires by next year.
By 2020, the state is working to have the infrastructure in place to handle those electric vehicles and says that's a "central component" of its strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It is working to reform electric retail rates on the wholesale market to ensure that "additional electrification minimizes infrastructure cost and maximizes both integration of renewable resources."
"California's energy policy must be clear and focused on meeting our advanced efficiency and renewable energy goals," Air Resources Board Chairwoman Mary Nichols said.
Separately, California, automakers and the Obama administration are working together to set the next round of fuel efficiency and emissions limits for the 2017 model year and beyond. The so-called "Notice of Intent" -- the first indication of where the new requirements may end up -- is due out by Sept. 30.
Many environmental groups want the Obama administration to require a fleetwide average of 60 mpg by 2025 for cars and light trucks. Automakers note they already agreed to a fleetwide average of 35 mpg by 2016 -- four years ahead of a congressional mandate.
"Before we have even achieved those new heights, the calls have begun to almost double mileage," said Dave McCurdy, president and CEO of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the trade group representing Detroit's Big Three automakers, Toyota Motor Corp. and seven others. "Instead of plucking numbers out of the air, we should base policy on science."
In an interview last week, Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., chairman of the House Select Committee on Global Warming, said the administration should set the highest mpg figure that's technically feasible, but didn't back a 60 mpg standard.
The Obama administration is also working on a proposed rule to set the first-ever fuel efficiency standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks.