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Do you know why we talk about horsepower for car power?

During the Industrial Revolution, James Watt compared the power of a steam engine with that of horses.

In the origins of the steam engine, it made sense to explain the power of an external combustion engine using horses as a lecture. Indeed, these animals were considered a means of transport and a valuable aid in work at the time. James Watt therefore forged the “horsepower” power unit in comparing the power of his steam engine to that of horses. But what does this power amount to these days? Explanations.

Horses as engines and horse engines

During the Industrial Revolution of the 18th century, horses made it possible to pull carts, power mills and carry out a whole host of difficult tasks for humans. With the appearance of the steam engine, it was difficult to measure the power of this new type of engine. And that’s how we decided to talk about horses. In 1780, Watt took as a reference the force necessary for a horse to operate a grain mill. In doing so, he makes the power of his steam engine audible and manufacturers can understand what it is capable of.

Nowadays, it is this legacy of Watt that we have in our vocabulary when we want to define the power of a motor.

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From horse to watt

Named after the inventor of the steam engine, the watt is gradually replacing the horse because it is a more precise global standard. Nowadays, car engines are still compared to horses, but if we take into account electric cars, the use of watts is more and more frequent.

With the development of the automobile industry, the “horsepower” was replaced in the international system (SI) by the watt as a standard unit of measurement. Instead of one “horsepower”, we are therefore talking about 745,699,872 watts.

In France, the “horsepower” corresponds to the power necessary for lift a mass of 75 kg over 1 meter in 1 second.

The watt is the standard international unit but in automotive language horsepower has remained over time. There The power of an engine is therefore measured in horsepower.

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