Horsepower

The horsepower is a widespread unit in the automotive industry for measuring car’s engine power. The origin of the horsepower notion dates back to the late eighteenth century and is believed to be established by the Scottish engineer and inventor James Watt who wanted to show how many horses could be replaced by his steam engines. In the International system of units one horsepower equals 745.7 watts when converted to the electrical equivalent.

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Horsepower metrics of the same engine may differ a little bit across countries. In a nutshell, the horsepower measures work done over a certain period of time. Precisely, one horsepower is the power required to move 33,000 pounds over one foot per minute. The Society of Automotive Engineers has adopted two common standards for measuring vehicle’s horsepower – the net and gross ones – with the latter indicated by the manufactures in advertising and technical specifications.

Engine horsepower is expended to beat various resistance factors like friction in transmission, rotation of wheels, aerodynamic powers, etc. More horsepower allows defying a stronger resistance and reaching a higher speed. It is a dynamic indicator and largely depends on the revolutions per minute (RPM) parameter. Manufactures usually specify the number of RPM releasing the maximum horsepower.

Since 2005, car manufactures started adopting a new voluntary standard issued by the SAE ensuring fair and accurate horsepower measurements.

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