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Interesting article. The Carnot engine, real car and the second law simile is unfortunate. The second law of thermodynamics applies to every physical system (a real car included). The Carnot engine is an idealization of an engine that obeys the laws of thermodynamics. A real engine DOES obey the second law of thermodynamics. It is just not as efficient as the idealized Carnot engine.

The second law gives an upper bound to the efficiency of physical processes. Not that that is the expected efficiency of a real system.