What is Horsepower? | Horsepower Now and Then


While the word horsepower was first intended as a marketing tool to sell steam engines to coal mine owners, the term has become commonplace in our language.

James Watt was not only a brilliant engineer, he was also a creative man. Watt had developed a new steam engine and wanted to sell it to coal mine owners. At the time, horses did the majority of the manual labor in the mines. Watt determined to show that his steam engine could do just as much work as the horses the coal mine owners were currently using.

Watt studied the workload of the horses and developed a mathematical formula which stated that one horse could pull about 33,000 pounds about one mile in a minute. He called this unit of measurement the horsepower and used it as a marketing tool to entice prospective customers. Of course, horses require water, food and rest to work at peak performance. This was another selling point for Watt.

Today, we still use the word horsepower to demonstrate the power of a particular engine. Knowing the exact horsepower of an engine will give the buyer a good idea of the vehicle's ability and power, even without a test drive.

Contact Audi Salt Lake City to learn more about horsepower.

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