Monday, November 3, 2014

Editorial: Will the New EPA Regulations Kill the Horsepower Wars?

Image courtesy of Dodge
With new cars supposed to achieve an average MPG of 34.5 by 2016, you would think that car manufacturers would have shifted their focus to squeezing every last MPG out of their new cars. However, cars like Dodge's all new Charger and Challenger Hellcat only prove that the horsepower wars are alive and well. For an avid car fanatic, like myself, knowing that car manufacturers still care about trying to squeeze every last drop of power out of their cars is always great news. It is even more exciting knowing that cars like the Hellcat duo are making their insane horsepower numbers without the help of electric motors or fancy alternative fuel systems. But with 2016 looming ever closer, how much longer can the horsepower wars keep going?



Image courtesy of Acura
If you ask me, manufacturers will find a way to keep the horsepower wars alive and kicking, even with the new EPA regulations. Think about these three cars: McLaren P1, Porsche 918, and Ferrari LaFerrari. All three of these hyper cars make an insane amount of horsepower, but they do not make their horsepower numbers with just a gasoline engine and forced induction. All three of these hyper cars make their horsepower numbers with the assistance of hybrid technology. Acura's upcoming NSX super car will also use hybrid technology to not only increase fuel economy, but also add to the vehicle's total power output as well as give the car all-wheel drive. Car manufacturers seem to recognize that using electric motors along with the gasoline engines seem to help their performance cars more than hurt them.

Image courtesy of Uncrate
Speaking of electric motors, Tesla's recently introduced Model S P85D shows that the horsepower wars have now gone electric. Tesla's latest addition to the Model S line makes an astonishing 691 horsepower and 687 lb./ft. of torque from its dual motor set up. This all new AWD Model S will hit 60 mph in a face melting 3.2 seconds and complete a quarter mile run in about 11.8 seconds. We are talking about hardcore super car performance territory being invaded by a four door electric sedan. While Tesla is currently the only major player in the performance electric car game, I have to imagine that Elon Musk would dive right in if an electric car horsepower war erupted.

Image courtesy of Jalopnik
So will the EPA's MPG regulations kill the horsepower wars? Yes and no. At some point, getting cars to achieve the EPA's required mileage will become impractical and expensive for gasoline burning engines. If manufacturers move away from traditional internal combustion, performance cars that use gasoline engines will also slowly go away. Instead, car manufacturers will shift their performance focus on alternative fuel engines and electric cars. As we have seen with the Model S P85D, the potential to make an insanely fast electric car is there. Who knows, maybe some day we'll get super cars and hyper cars that run on hydrogen or natural gas. As long as car enthusiasts exist, I am sure the horsepower wars will continue in one form or another.