Dublin Saab

Cars, politics, sports and what not from my view. (Closed Sundays and Holidays)

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Truth in HP

This is intriguing. The SAE (Society of American Engineers) has decided to make changes to the manner in which horse power ratings are calculated. This is the second time they have made such a change. The first time was 30 years ago when they went to “gross” rating to real or “net” ratings. This change, combined with new emission and CAFÉ regulations meant that a big 1970 Buick with a rating of 325hp had morphed into a big 1980 Buick with a rating of 140hp. My 1983 Delta had a 5.0L V8 and was rated at 140hp. Those were dark times.

Today many normal cars are approaching the same numbers as the monsters of the late 60’s with “net” ratings. The horse power war has heated up so much that a 2006 Chevy Impala SS will hit 60mph in a scant 5.7 seconds. Twenty years ago only Lamborghinis, Ferraris and the nutty Buick Grand National could get to 60 that fast. Oh no, I’m bunny trailing.

Okay, so it is in the midst of this great hp war that the SAE has made a change. The change is to remove an area in the math that can lead to “interpolation”, which means simply that manufacturers can fudge the numbers.

This gets to the intriguing bit, it seems that Japanese makers have consistently been over reporting hp numbers, sometimes drastically as in the case of the Toyota Camry 3.0l V6 which was reported as 210hp but is really only 190hp, while the Americans have been under billing their numbers, also sometimes drastically as in the Cadillac XLR which was reported as 440hp but is really cranking out 469hp.

I think it's too much to a merely be a coincidence. Perhaps if it was 60/40 or even 75 / 25 but no, the Japanese were over billing pretty much everything while the Americans were under mining their product. There has to be some kind of cultural thing at work here but I sure don’t know much about the Japanese (other than they’ll eat anything) to hazard a guess.

How long can you stay top dog with these numbers?

Anyway his could help eat away at the seeming invincibility of the Japanese as they have lost their edge on quality and now will be telling the truth about their under powered products.


At August 20, 2005 1:52 AM, Blogger Nightcrawler said...

Isn't it funny how the price goes up as the hp drops? To think, all of those people have been paying more to get less! Of course, they do get some perks like more standard features, improved fuel economy and things like that but is it really worth the additional cost?

At August 22, 2005 3:53 PM, Blogger The Evil Jeremy. said...

Nicely structured argument. However, I read the suggestion, or at least the conjecture, that perhaps the Japanese are culturally inclined toward bluffing and Americans toward understatement. Was that it? Or was it just a real, "hey, don't know?" 'Cuz I'm not buying the first one, as we all know that understatement and humility are hardly fundamental parts of the U.S. identity.

But I, too, know too little about what the Japanese might perceive about themselves, other than their general thrust toward comparitive advantage, that might make them fudge the numbers when the U.S. doesn't. It's an interesting problem that you've addressed.

And if I misread anything, just clarify, or if you don't have time, ignore it. I was just curious about your ideas.

At August 24, 2005 3:39 PM, Blogger Dublin Saab said...

Oh no conjecture on my part. Just an observation and a note of wonder on what the cause could be. I was merely wondering IF it could be some cultural thing and by no means was trying to make a casual declaration.

I could try to come up with something but I don’t feel like digging that deep into me bum, if ya know what I mean.


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