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How much power do you really need?

What do you think is the acceptable power requirement for the average South African car owner? Nothing less than too much, that will be just enough, is usually the answer. As South Africans, we are notorious for having a fondness for speed. Just have a look around you at the many sports cars, SUVs, and super-saloons sharing the roads with you. The following then comes to mind. You see these powerful cars plodding alongside small hatchbacks at 40 km/h in rush-hour traffic. Are these power requirements then really necessary? How often, if you have the extra power, will you be using it?

A part of the answer lies in another question. What is the power required to drive at 120 km/h on a level, paved road? A mid-range saloon car, at around 1500 m above sea level, requires around 28 kW to maintain 120 km/h. For a 250-kW sports car, that is just 10% of its total power output. For that tiny 60-kW city hatchback, it is still less than half the power available. The short answer is, then, that you need very little power to cruise on the highway. Why do most cars then have so much more power than is evidently required?

Acceleration and reserve power

This is the answer to our previous question. The excess power is for acceleration and reserves. The sports car will probably accelerate to 120 km/h in 7 seconds, while the little economy car may take 20 seconds. That is important for overtaking, especially when you want to spend as little time as possible in the oncoming lane. The more power you have, the faster you can accelerate past slow-moving traffic and the safer the overtaking is. You also need reserve power for maintaining your speed when going up hills. The power also comes into play when carrying loads, towing, and for running the air-conditioner. So, power is also a safety feature, not just an indulgence with which to reach high (and illegal) speeds. With extra power also comes higher fuel consumption, and this is where the smaller car outshines yours.

Let me wrap up this discussion regarding the sufficient power requirements. In a small car, 60 kW is sufficient for safe overtaking at legal speeds, together with excellent fuel consumption. Far more important is to know that you are getting everything out of your car that it can deliver. Unfortunately, mass-produced cars do not often perform to their maximum potential while delivering the best economy. The reason for this is because the extra work required would make them more expensive.

Power requirements and the Unichip

It may be a surprise to you, but with the Unichip, there is almost always some room for vehicle improvement. Unichip fills that gap and will ensure that you enjoy all the power your engine can produce. Together with this, you will enjoy the best possible economy. Make the most of every bit of power and every milliliter of fuel. Practice responsible car care. Become part of the Unichip family and buy your Unichip today. Click here to contact us.