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Why Do Our Cars Have So Much Wasted Muscle?

The average horsepower of a new American car has more than doubled since 1980. You probably haven’t noticed, and most of this additional horsepower goes to waste. In fact, our cars represent a vast reservoir of untapped energy producing potential — more than 38,000 gigawatts in total. That’s 35 times the combined output of every coal, nuclear, wind, solar, and hydroelectric power plant in the country. Alexis Madrigal does the math. What are we doing with all this extra muscle under the hood? Couldn’t it be put to better use? [%comments]