How Much Duckpower Does Your Car Have?

If you’ve been living under a rock, like some of us apparently, you may not have heard of something called “Duckpower”. It’s quite the phenomenon, sparked by the Art of Engineering Youtube channel over three years ago. Now it’s taken the shapes of other animals as well. As it turns out, converting horsepower to duckpower isn’t tricky. All it requires is a little bit of simple math and some flexibility in the way you measure a car’s power. Keep an open mind and have some fun with duckpower.

Duckpower vs. horsepower

Car power is measured in a number of ways. The U.S. does it in horsepower, while down under in Australia, they measure it in kilowatts. Across the pond, Europe sometimes uses Pferdestarke (PS) as metric horsepower. Horsepower originated from James Watt, who created it to represent how many horses it would take to replace a steam engine. It has since become an arbitrary measurement of a car’s power. It stands to reason, then, that horsepower can be replaced with anything. Sharkpower, for instance.

Duckpower came to us by way of the Art of Engineering Youtube channel. In a nutshell, duckpower is rated using something called Kleiber’s law according to the Art of Engineering. It dictates that an animal’s rate of consumption, or metabolic rate, is about the same as its mass, multiplied to the power of 3/4. The next step is to divide the mass of a duck by the mass of a horse and complete Kleiber’s law. This gives a value of 131.2 duckpower to one horsepower. Now you can take your car’s horsepower and multiply it by 131.2 to get the duckpower. A 2002 Mustang GT, for instance, has 260 horsepower, which becomes 34,112 horsepower. 

Power can be measured with any animal’s mass

Ducks surrounding a Plymouth Duster
Ducks surrounding a Plymouth Duster | Steve Larson/The Denver Post via Getty Images

As long as you have the animal’s mass, you can translate the car’s horsepower into whatever animal you want. We can take a blue whale’s average mass of 310,000 pounds and plug it into the equation to get 49.5, which means one whalepower is equal to about 49.5 horsepower. Our Mustang GT now makes 5 whalepower. It’s a silly thought but entertaining nonetheless. 

How much duckpower is in the most powerful car in the world?

Aspark Owl on display in Woodstock, UK
Aspark Owl on display in Woodstock, UK | Martyn Lucy/Getty Images

Using duckpower to brag about your car will only work up to a point until others with more powerful cars catch on and match the conversion. The most powerful production car that exists is the Aspark Owl which makes 1,985 horsepower. Converting that into duckpower nets us 260,432, which sounds way better. We can also convert it into owlpower, which seems more fitting, which nets us 310,156 owlpower. 

All of this goes to show that horsepower is not a consistent unit of measurement. It was defined on the strength of a single horse over 200 years ago. It makes more sense to adopt kilowatt as the standard unit of measuring power.

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