How Much Horsepower Does a Horse Have Versus a Supercar?

Brown horse with blue sky background

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Getting the Devel Sixteen running would take approximately 333 Belgian Draft Horses at full speed. With a horsepower measurement of 5,007, it’s the most powerful car ever made. So what’s with Belgian draft horses, and what do they have to do with how supercars and speed? You’ve probably asked yourself at least once, what is horsepower and how much horsepower does a horse have? For all things performance, speed and power, here all the details on measuring horsepower

Why is it Called Horsepower?

Scottish Engineer James Watt first came up with using horsepower as a measurement. Of course, no powerful engines like we have today were in sight, but it’s proven a reliable method of measuring power over the decades. 

He came up with the term to sell his new invention: the steam engine. This would later replace horses and he knew it, so he calculated and compared the output of steam engines with horses to explain the potential power output of his invention. 

His calculations showed that one mill horse could push 33000 pounds a minute, which became the horsepower measurement. Today, the power produced by an engine (and how fast it can do so) is called horsepower. 

How come a horse has more than 1 horsepower?

According to James Watt’s calculations above… horsepower isn’t really about a horse’s physical abilities like speed or strength. These are factors that contribute to a horse’s horsepower. However, it’s a measurement more suited to machinery and vehicles than animals. 

When you look at how much power a single horse can generate, you need to look at the horse’s age, breed, size and health. In general, a horse can produce 5-10 horsepower on average. Well-trained horses with elite genes may be able to produce up to 15 horsepower, depending on the situation.

Belgian Draft Horses may be able to produce this horsepower. They were first bred in Belgium for their strong backs. While they started out as warhorses, many farmers started to harness their power for heavy lifting and pulling thanks to their muscle, longer legs and height. 

How do you measure horsepower? 

In the world of vehicles and machines, horsepower goes hoof in hoof with torque. You can’t explain one without the other. So it’s essential to define these to understand how horsepower is measured. 

Torque is the measurement used to describe how much force causes an object to rotate or twist on an axis. In other words, it’s how strong a vehicle is. Torque is what trucks use to haul heavy loads and get them moving. If you’ve ever been in a sports car, you know the feeling of being pushed back into your seat as the car goes from 0-60 in mere seconds you know how powerful torque is. 

Horsepower for vehicles translated to speed. It’s also used for non-transport machinery like electric motors, hydraulic machines and stationary engines. 

Different countries use different terms to describe the horsepower unit. Generally, horsepower is measured in KiloWatts (KW), since the term is an imperial one. In North America and Britain, you’ll see it being measured in horsepower(HP)— in Germany, you’ll see it being estimated in pferdestarke (PS), the German translation of horsepower. 

In numbers 1PS = 0.9863HP  and 1KW = 1.34HP. 

While a bit torque number combined with engine speed will always give a significant HP number, an engine with a lower torque can still produce good HP if you rev it high enough. 

Measuring Horsepower 

Mechanical or vehicle horsepower is measured using a dynamometer. Either the tester will run the engine through its rev range at full throttle or the car’s drive wheels will be placed on rollers to measure the torque. A computer calculates the horsepower by multiplying it by engine speed. 

How much does horsepower matter? 

In Everyday Driving 

Most common driving situations only need about 100-200HP– equivalent to 10-15 horses with a standard horsepower ability of 10. The average engine doesn’t need much help to provide enough acceleration and overall performance. Trucks and SUVs will need a little more in the 400hp range to haul around extra weight. 

In Racing/SuperCars 

Top speeds of over 250 mph need big horsepower and IndyCar machines produce between 550 and 700 while F1 cars can go up to 1,000HP. 

Supercars go even hire, with cars like the latest Ferrari F8, which  has 900HP – which could indicate HP performance in most supercars. 

Top 5 cars with the most horsepower 

Automakers continue to push the limits of physics with producing power cars that can reach incredibly high speeds. Here are some of the best cars, ranked by horsepower

1. Devel Sixteen 

With it’s V-16  Quad-Turbocharged engine, this production car can reach up to 5,007 horsepower. That’s 333 Belgian Draft Horses at full speed. The Devel Sixteen is so ** it inspired Rockstar Games to put it in GTA5. 

Top speed: 364 MPH 

0 to 60 mph: 1.6 seconds 

Torque: 3,760 pound-feet 

2. Deus Vayanne

This concept car will be out for production in 2025. The company boasts super powerful performance with 2,200 Horsepower. While it’s far from a close second to the Devel Sixteen, it’s enough to produce 248mph of pure speed. 

Top speed: 248MPH

0 to 60 mph: 1.9 seconds 

Torque: 1,475 pound-feet

3. Lotus Evija 

Think futeristic hypercar complete with ultrafast charging. Although it produces the same horsepower as the Deus Vayanne, the Lotus Evija’s design may jsut be it’s most attractive spec. It has butterfly doors and a large rear wing made of sheet metal. 

Top speed: 217MPH 

0 to 60 mph: 2.9 seconds 

Torque: 1,256 pound-feet 

4. AsPark Owl

Automaker Manifattura Automobil Torino has been working on this car since 2018. The 50 cars produced will have an HP measurement of 1,985 and the ability to reach up to 260MPH in thanks to the fully electric powertrain and individual motors for the wheels. 

Top speed: 260MPH 

0 to 60 mph: 1.7 seconds 

Torque: 1,475 pound-feet 

5.  Rimac Nevera 

Nevera is the future of electric vehicles. The car has nine onboard cameras, 12 ultrasonic sensors, LIDAR, radar and an onboard supercomputer to provide an exceptional driving experience. It can reach up to 1,914 Horsepower and reaches super speeds with silence. 

Top speed: 258 MPH 

0 to 60 mph: 1.9 seconds 

Torque: 1,696 pound-feet 

Supercar Versus Horse 

So there you have it. One horse has a production ability of 5-15 horsepower, while the most powerful supercar has a horsepower of 5,007. How’s that for technological advancement? 

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