DETROIT—With gas prices approaching $2 per gallon in some areas and gridlock on the rise, Detroit's three major automakers are stepping up development of their newest brainchild: the anger-powered car.

The Chevrolet Tantrum, one of the new road-rage-fueled vehicles.

"By drawing a significant percentage of its motive power from the unbridled temper of the American motorist, the new anger-powered car will change, or at least take mechanical advantage of, the way Americans drive," General Motors vice-chairman Robert A. Lutz said. "We plan to have these furiously efficient machines careening down America's highways, byways, and sidewalks within two years."

Lutz said automakers have been researching fury fuels since the mid-1970s. As early as 1984, they began to look for ways to take advantage of the limitless supply of bad temper generated daily by American drivers—outrage currently vented wastefully into dashboards, steering wheels, and passengers.

An engine burning clean, white-hot hatred will release few harmful byproducts into the atmosphere—bad; vibes and a small amount of water vapor will combine to be released in the form of human spittle. In addition, anger technology will turn the standard fuel-economy paradigm on its head: An anger-powered engine is actually more efficient in heavy urban traffic.

"The theory behind the anger-powered engine is actually quite simple," said Keith Cameron, chief engineer on General Motors' Project Instigator until January. "The average motorist traveling a clogged American highway produces hundreds of kilowatt-hours of negative energy per infuriating drive. The Instigator motor converts this emotional energy into kinetic energy by a process most drivers—people too goddamn stupid to use their goddamn blinkers when they change goddamn lanes—will never be able to understand. Just trust me, dumbasses, it works."

Cameron, who is currently serving a seven-year prison sentence for vehicular manslaughter and high-efficiency battery, added, "In the white-knuckled hands of the average American driver, it's an extremely powerful tool."

GM is currently developing two anger-powered cars, the entry-level Chevrolet Tantrum coupe and the larger, pricier Buick Umbrage. Ford has announced a multi-tiered move toward anger power, with plans to introduce anger/gasoline hybrid engines in the popular Lincoln Frown Car in 2006, to offer a de Sade option for its classic Mercury Gran Marquis in 2007, and to unveil a line of Acrimony family-sized cars and wagons in 2008. Daimler-Chrysler will resurrect the defunct Plymouth brand name with the reintroduction of the Plymouth Fury.

Anger power was first explored by Daimler-Chrysler, whose concept car, the Plymouth Violent, caused an uproar upon its introduction at the 1989 Detroit Auto Show. The Violent, more a seething showcase of technology and rage than a workable production car, achieved a remarkable 89 miles per gallon and hospitalized 19 auto-show attendees.

The anger-powered car will be aimed solidly at the middle of the market. Options such as semi-tinted glower windows, auto-locking brakes, and a baffling array of randomly blinking warning lights will be standard on all models.

"Production models will have angry-punch-absorbing energy-conversion pads in the dashboards, steering wheels, and driver-side doors," Chrysler Group chief executive Dieter Zetsche said. "Sound-sensitive materials in the cars' interiors will convert livid outbursts into motive power. And, because an angry driver is, in this case, a better driver, literally hundreds of anger- and performance-enhancing options will be available, including loud, ineffective mufflers, talk-station-only radios, truly intermittent wipers, steering wheels which imperceptibly tilt forward over the course of an hour, and excruciatingly well-heated seats."

Early consumer tests of the cars indicate that they perform beyond designers' expectations. The automotive press has been particularly enthusiastic about anger power.

"This bitch's bastard's whore went like a goddamn raped ape with me at the wheel," said Car And Driver's Brock Yates, who test-drove Daimler-Chrysler's Dodge Rammit pickup. "The vitriolic-assist brakes barely worked, the rear-view mirror found my bald spot every time, and the voice-response OnStar system mocked me for writing the script for Cannonball Run. I was getting 107 miles to the gallon when I T-boned that bus."

Car manufacturers have yet to determine a price for the rage-fueled vehicles.

"We have a delicate balance to strike," Ford Motor Company president Nick Scheele said. "The middle-income customer should be able to afford the car, but in order to increase engine efficiency, the price should be high enough to eat away at him the entire time he's driving. We're considering wildly fluctuating interest rates or a monthly payment rate that's pegged to the basketball standings."

Added Scheele: "I can assure you that there will be a model priced so that middle-class Americans who spend hours each week commuting between mid-level office jobs in the city and noisy, demanding families in the suburbs can afford it."

Fully anger-powered cars are expected to begin hitting American showrooms and other cars in summer 2006. If successful, the venture may vindicate the auto engineers still smarting over their brief and disastrous flirtation with love-and-happiness power, a trend that failed commercially and eventually petered out during the positive-energy crisis of the 1970s.