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Under the Obama rule, passenger cars and light trucks would see a real-world average of 37.4 miles per gallon by 2025, according to Mui's calculations.

The administration's announcement that it will relax future fuel economy (CAFE) standards is good news for consumers. California received the exemption - the only state to do so - decades ago because it was already developing its own standards when federal rules were being written.

"Millions of Americans are choosing cleaner vehicles, longer lives and lower fuel costs because of clean vehicle standards", said State Senator Ricardo Lara, who represents parts of North Long Beach.

Lara, who recently authored a bill that seeks to amend zoning laws to make electric vehicle charging stations more accessible, said he supported the lawsuit filed by almost 20 states, including California, to protect the air quality standards the Trump administration is trying to weaken. The timeline could then align with the finalization of the fuel efficiency changes, as the proposed rule still needs to work its way through a lengthy public comment process. The government also said the proposal will save consumers $2,340 (£1,796 / €2,017) since automakers won't have to increase prices to offset the costs of building more efficient vehicles.

"For an administration that is happy to let states set their own rules when it comes to weakening environmental protection, it's the height of hypocrisy to deny California and a dozen other states their right to protect their people from global warming", Becker said in a statement.

Transportation experts question the reasoning behind the proposal.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have unveiled their new proposal for fuel economy standards following the scrapping of the Obama-era plan which called for a corporate average fuel economy rating of 54.5 mpg (65.4 mpg United Kingdom / 4.3L / 100km) by 2025.

California is expected to challenge the withdrawal of the waiver in court.

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When the Trump administration on Thursday proposed freezing fuel efficiency standards for new cars in 2020, it claimed the move would save consumers money on new cars and lead to fewer deaths on the road. It's got "everything to do with just trying to turn over the fleet ... and get more clean and safe cars on the road", EPA assistant administrator Bill Wehrum said.

The administration also projects the efficiency rules would drive up the price of cars enough to push some buyers out of the market, leaving them to remain in older vehicles lacking life-saving new technologies like assisted braking and blind spot warning.

Other states that joined in the lawsuit were: Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

The administration asserts the freeze will also improve vehicle affordability "leading to increased use of newer, safer, cleaner and more efficient vehicles".

At the same time, it plans to block California from putting its own mileage standards into place.

Said Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao: "There are compelling reasons for a new rulemaking on fuel economy standards for 2021-2026". Before a crowd of autoworkers assembled at a decommissioned auto factory, Trump said "we're going to work on the CAFE standards so you can make cars in America again".

The difference between the two standards could amount to several hundred dollars a year in increased fuel expenditures for the typical motorist.