Commercial vehicle supplier sheds light on the power abbreviations that leave LCV buyers confused

(Photo Caption: L to R David Spear. General Manager Geraint Yeo and Workshop Manager David Gill examine a vehicle at David Spear Commercials’ fitting bay)

Every industry is guilty of using jargon, and in most sectors these specialised words and technical terms can leave customers perplexed. The Light Commercial Vehicle (LCV) world is no different, but luckily buyers have leading commercial vehicle dealer David Spear on their side so they don’t get lost in translation.

Known industry-wide as ‘power abbreviations’, terms like bhp, PS and torque are used heavily throughout the LCV market but what do they mean to the individuals and companies looking to invest in a commercial vehicle?

“Hearing these power abbreviations during your commercial vehicle purchase can leave even the savviest of buyer out of their depth, but with the right understanding you can go into your upcoming purchase with your eyes wide open. Let’s start with bhp or brake horsepower. Unlike the wider used term ‘horsepower’, which relays the engine’s total output, brake horsepower refers to the amount of energy left once other parts like the gearbox, alternator and water pump have all been powered, a measurement that is taken at the road wheels, not the flywheel,” said Owner David Spear.

Another term that goes hand-in-hand with bhp is PS or Pferdestärke. Translated as ‘horse strength’ in German, PS is one abbreviation that has been substituted but is still commonly used by vehicle manufacturers around the world. Since 1992 the abbreviation PS should be replaced by kW or kilowatt, which is the legal measurement of engine power throughout the European Union. PS refers to the metric horsepower of a vehicle; PS represents 98.6% of the bhp of a vehicle.

Despite the bureaucracy surrounding these two particular terms kW is still used far less than PS or bhp.

“Torque is another key term that you may have encountered, particularly when referring to bhp. Torque simply refers to the pulling power that the engine delivers when working at different speeds. In short, the more torque an engine has, the more acceleration a vehicle offers at lower revs. Torque gives an indication of how fast the engine will be able to pull a vehicle’s weight when overtaking or pulling off, a factor that is essential to all light commercial vehicle purchases. Understanding just how powerful the vehicle you are looking to buy is of course important, especially if it is a commercial investment. As well as busting jargon like bhp, PS, kW and torque, we can advise you on the purchase of LCVs and ultimately find a vehicle that suits your needs,” concluded David.

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