In this 0-60 calculator, you will learn what 0-60 means and why the 0-60 time is one of the most important parameters when it comes to car performance. You will also discover other similar car acceleration measures like the 0-100 or the quarter-mile times.
After presenting the definition and usefulness of the 0-60 parameter, we will show you the most critical factors affecting a car's acceleration and present the method we used in this 0-60 calculator to estimate a vehicle's 0-60 time. Finally, we will show you, with an example, how you can use our 0-60 calculator to quickly and easily estimate the 0-60 time of any car.
0-60 definition and usefulness
If you are a sports car enthusiast, you most probably appreciate the importance of the 0-60 time, and you may have researched things like what car has the fastest acceleration? If you're not, chances are you've heard the term "0 to 60" when referring to a car's performance. But what is 0-60? What do we mean when we say a vehicle's 0-60 time? And why is it important?
0-60 or "0 to 60" means 0 to 60 mph, or the time it takes a vehicle to go from 0 to 60 miles per hour. It is a standard automotive performance indicator used, mostly in the United States and the United Kingdom, to evaluate a vehicle's acceleration.
|💡 When referring to a car's 0 to 60 time, it is always assumed that the acceleration exercise is carried out in a straight line and on a flat, horizontal surface.|
In other parts of the world, a very similar parameter is more often used: the 0-100; It means 0 to 100 km/h. Also, another widely used car acceleration indicator is the quarter mile time or the time it takes for a vehicle to cover a quarter-mile distance from a complete stop.
Some other similar parameters are sometimes used, like "0 to 62 mph", "0 to 100 mph", or "1/8 mile time". In essence, these are all car acceleration measures used to evaluate how fast a car can go from a standstill and reach a given speed or cover a given distance.
When it comes to car performance characteristics, along with gas consumption and braking/cornering capacity, a car's acceleration is often considered more important than top speed because it is a useful feature that the driver can appreciate in everyday driving situations.
What factors impact the 0-60 performance?
A great many variables and conditions can affect a car's capacity to accelerate. Beyond the obvious engine power and vehicle weight, important factors include:
- Tire size and type;
- Road quality and wetness;
- Car chassis and suspension;
- Electronic aids and launch control;
- Gearbox and transmission;
- Car aerodynamics;
- Atmospheric conditions;
- Car center of gravity; and
- Driver skills.
This multitude of parameters makes it practically impossible to accurately compute a vehicle's acceleration times in a single, well-defined formula. But based on physics from first principles and real-world experimental data, we can calculate a close approximation of a vehicle's 0-60 time from a few crucial variables like:
- Engine power;
- Vehicle weight;
- Type of tires;
- Type of drivetrain; and
- Road conditions.
Now that you know what is 0-60 and what factors affect a vehicle's acceleration, read the next section of our 0-60 calculator to see the method that we used to estimate a car's 0-60 time and understand the importance of the parameters that have the most impact on acceleration.
How to estimate 0-60 times?
This section will present the method used in our 0-60 calculator to estimate the 0-60 time of any given vehicle.
|💡 This is not the only method, but it is based on physics principles to define the structure of the "estimation equation", and real-world experimental data to identify and "tweak" the equation's parameters in order to best fit the multitude of existing production cars' performance figures.|
The general form of the 0-60 time estimation equation is built in 5 steps:
- Calculate, from physics first principles, the minimum theoretical 0-60 time based on engine power and vehicle weight, assuming 0 losses and continuous maximum power delivery;
- Apply a proportional penalty to account for all secondary effects like engine torque/power delivery fluctuations, aerodynamics, friction losses in the vehicle's moving parts, car center of gravity position...;
- Apply an absolute minimum threshold on the 0-60 time to account for the impact of drive type, tire type, and road conditions on the maximum usable grip for power delivery;
- Apply proportional penalties reflecting the losses related to engine type, tire type, and road conditions; and
- Add an absolute time penalty representing the total gearbox shift times of the most common transmission types.
Following these steps results in this equation for the 0-60 time:
Time = max(a * X, b + c + d) * e * f * g + h,
- X is the minimum theoretical 0-60 time: X = vehicle kinetic energy at 60 mph / vehicle maximum power;
- a is the proportional penalty to account for all secondary effects;
- b, c, and d are the absolute grip threshold penalties from drive type, tire type, and road conditions;
- e, f, and g are the proportional penalties of engine type, tire type, and road conditions;
- h is the absolute penalty of gearbox shift times; and
- max() is a function that returns whichever argument has the maximum value.
A set of values for each element of our estimation equation - except for X - are identified and optimized to yield good fitting results with automotive experimental data for 0-60 times.
When you fill in the fields of our calculator with a few key elements related to your vehicle, the calculator seamlessly selects the appropriate values for the parameters of the estimation equation and gives you the resulting estimated 0-60 time of your car.
Using the 0-60 calculator
Now that you've seen how the 0-60 calculator works, let's look at a practical example and see how we can use it to quickly estimate the 0 to 60 time of a car (real or hypothetical...).
Suppose that you bought a new RWD (rear-wheel drive) sedan with a 260 hp (horsepower) petrol engine, an automatic gearbox, and running on normal tires. The car weighs 3,500 lbs and you want to know how fast can it go from 0 to 60 mph when you're driving it with one other passenger and a half tank of fuel in dry weather conditions.
No problem, here's how you can do it:
- Enter 260 hp in the field Engine power;
- Input 3500 lbs in the field Empty weight;
- Add the weight of the fuel and the weight of your passenger to your own weight, and provide the result in the field Payload weight (say: 400 lbs);
- In the field Type of vehicle, choose Sedan;
- In the field Drive type, choose RWD;
- Choose Internal combustion engine in the field Motor;
- Enter Automatic in the Gearbox field;
- Input Normal tires in the field Tires; and
- Choose Dry for the field Conditions.
The calculator will give you a time of 6.65 s in the field 0-60 time. Not bad!
|💡 Note that electric cars rarely have a gearbox and almost always use a direct-drive transmission. On the other hand, petrol cars have an internal combustion engine linked to a manual, automatic, or dual-clutch gearbox and rarely have a direct-drive. Keep that in mind when choosing the gearbox options in the calculator.|
|💡 Very low powered cars (< 25 - 30 hp) may never be able to reach 60 mph. These cars are very rare nowadays and the calculator is not designed to produce reliable 0-60 times for these kind of power figures.|
Go ahead and try some numbers and combinations. See, in each case, what's the minimum 0-60 time you can achieve when you keep increasing engine power, for example and try to understand the effects of different limiting factors on the maximum achievable acceleration. Try to find the optimal car, engine, and drivetrain setup that yields the fastest acceleration. Have fun! 😉