Horsepower: What Does It Measure?

List in hand, you walk confidently into the dealership, you know exactly what to ask, so you look at that first item on the list, and it is Horsepower. Hmm, what does that mean? Yes, someone told you to ask about horsepower, and they told you that the higher the number, the better, but do you really know what the term means?

The term was actually a sales ploy used by James Watt in the 18th century. It was an analogy he used to impress future customers with his new steam engine ideas. It was a comparative he developed to explain the measure of the power of the new engines. How did he come up with the idea? During the development stages of his invention, he worked at a coal mine and often watched the ponies work. He estimated that the average pony produced about 33,000 foot-pounds of work per minute. He compared that to work performed by his steam engines and called it horsepower.

So how does horsepower figure into the car buying equation? It’s a little mathematical, but basically, if a car has 1 horsepower then it is like having one pony pulling 33 pounds per minute. Want to know more? Get in touch with Jenkins Nissan of Leesburg and one of our sales agents will be happy to explain!

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