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GM Sub-Compact Packs Noxious Punch, But Is It Enough?

DETROIT, MICH. ( — Claiming it has filled the final niche in the automotive market, General Motors yesterday unveiled the 2001 Chevrolet Effluvium, a sub-compact gas guzzler that, boasted one GM executive, "eats up ozone like a four-cylinder, coal-burning power plant."

Industry observers declared the new model bold, surprising, and asinine.

Remember: Share a Seat Belt with a Friend.

Speaking to analysts at the Detroit Auto Show, GM CEO John Smith, Jr., defended the Effluvium, which he claimed will occupy the last available niche in the automotive market.

"Look where the industry has been," said Smith. "We used to make big cars that polluted a lot. Then we made small cars that polluted less. Then we made big cars that polluted less. So what's missing?"

Small cars that pollute more, Smith argued.

To automotive market analyst Noah Wang, that's not all that's missing. Since the 1970s, said Wang, Detroit has been reluctant to change, fighting such innovations as emissions standards and air bags. That trend began to change in the 1990s, when Ford, GM, and Chrysler all embraced the cup holder. With the Effluvium, Wang lamented, the innovation-wave has receded.

"This is just not original," Wang told Smith during the show. "I'm afraid the car is going to have to be more than just another gas-guzzler."

"It's also built out of papier-mâché," Smith countered. "Except for the air bags, which are glass."

"I don't care if it has exploding bumpers," said Wang. "It's still not enough."

"The gas tank is under the driver's seat," Smith noted. "And the seat belts are highly flammable."

"Nope. Not convinced."

"The steering wheel is heated to 475 degrees Farenheit."


"And if you try to start the car... you... um..."


"Something really bad will happen. Maybe something with acid. Or vampires."

"Hmmm... it would have to be real vampires, or real acid."

"Sure, sure. Could be vampires on acid. Who knows?"

In a revised statement, Wang estimated the Effluvium would quickly become one of the top-selling small cars in America and raised his rating on GM to "strong buy."

Executives at Ford and DaimlerChrysler, meanwhile, quickly announced work on their own small gas guzzlers — the Mercury Miasma and the Plymouth Vapor — which they said would hit the market in 2002. Car & Driver editor Paul Brock, however, cautioned against nationalistic euphoria, noting that Toyota is believed to be working on a 2-cylinder motorcycle that emits radioactive particles.


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