The Horsepower War

I chuckle at the ridiculous horsepower figures given for the latest internet supercars.

(To make a long story short, the limitations of tires if nothing else means that increased engine power will pass the point of diminishing returns before it reaches the theoretical limit.)

In my Automation playthroughs, the jewel in the horsepower crown has been a 574 horsepower engine with development starting in the mid 1980s and, going by engineering time, being ready for mass production in the early 1990s. It’s a V8 rather than a V12.

Naturally, the car is a two-seat supercar with an inflation-adjusted price of over $300,000.

Enter this creative writing exercise.

_ _ _ _ _ _

“Now, this sort of thing only happens once. We seek a partner, and can use the marque as an overall luxury one. We have a perfectly good plant for high-end, low value production, and we have the Folino brand. Otherwise, we run up a ton of debt trying to build a successor to the Power8 and hope lightning strikes twice.”

Samuele Lelli had heard a variation of that argument a million times before. From a business perspective, it made total sense.

Sell most of-but not all of your stake in L-F, then start or join a small engine tuner, and live your performance dream there.

But his heart didn’t want to put engines in Fords, Cadillacs or Tatras. What his heart wanted was to build a car from the ground up, a street car that could win the war. Leapfrog ahead, with the dream. The years he’d spent designing the Power8 had been the happiest of his life, and he wanted to keep going, to reach the goal of-

10,000 horsepower. Ten. Thousand. Horsepower.





Supercar Struggles

I made a supercar in Automation. The 80s supercar I made is an illustration of just how tough the supercar business is.

Designing the car itself wasn’t the hardest part-I had to use different size tires to brute-force my way to a decent understeer score without digging into the suspension (turns it wasn’t unheard of, especially on RWD performance cars). The “markets” segment was when it hit.

Development costs for a supercar are incredibly high. So are development costs for everything car-related, but here you’re pushing the limit. It’s making an SR-71, not a Piper Cub.

And you can’t rely on volume. The only strategy is to roar up the price a lot and hope your supercar stands out from the pack. Most really big supercars are experimental platforms/advertisements, and are expected to lose money.

So, my supercar, similar in backstory if not mechanically to the (failed) Cizeta-Moroder V16T   gets a few mulligans. A celebrity backing, arriving at exactly the right time for a pent-up urge to splurge, and good luck. Even then, it’s probably going to come at the expense of other supercar firms. And be temporary.


Automation Game Projects

In my list of games I like to play, I’ve previously mentioned my liking of Automation: The Car Company Tycoon Game. In that game, I’ve built all sorts of cars in it. However, there are a few ones that I keep fine-tuning. Not in terms of any specific file, but a general class of cars.




Kabans (the name comes from a Russian word for “boar”), are compact cars that I build with the following characteristics/priorities.


-Good off-road performance.

-Fuel efficiency via direct injection and light panel materials.

-Modest attempts at cost control.


I’ve built a line of Kabans ranging from early 2000s ones to contemporary designs. Most get decent enough grades in the tycoon part, and are fun to build (if not ride in, given that I make the suspension prioritize ruggedness over smoothness).




Breakout-Cars are the nickname I give to my array of designs that I took a particular interest in with the engineering and tooling cost changes in the latest update. They represent budget cars built by countries with revving up (no pun intended) auto industries. The goal is simplicity-simple parts that could theoretically be made easier by domestic suppliers, and simple construction.


Thus the only advantage of breakout-cars (especially for a developed-world consumer) is their price. The first breakout-car was so bad that I nicknamed it “Crappy-Car”. Hideous acceleration, pollution, and fuel consumption made it a car people would only buy if they had no other choice. Later cars are better, but still not ideal.




And of course, there are the high-end luxury and sports cars. The exact opposite of breakout-cars, they’re simple to explain-high end in everything, including cost.

I like seeing the production numbers, even if “cars per day” is misleading.. A large plant can produce over a thousand Kabans a day, and smaller plants (to represent the still-lacking physical capital) make slightly fewer breakout-cars. But for the super-luxury ones-small plants and perfect attention to detail means that for the two plant sizes I used, it maxed out at three and four cars a day.
So, enjoy a ride in your Kaban, or, worse, breakout-car that the next Malcolm Bricklin wants to import.