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Will the New C8 Corvette be Untunable?

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The camera-shy Corvette C8 makes a rare appearance
Photo: National Corvette Museum

Modern cars, like the new Corvette, seem to have an ever-increasing amount of computerization. However, with advanced technology comes the potential for hacking. That’s why GM is rolling out more robust cybersecurity for its vehicles — at the cost of making the vehicles much harder to tune for aftermarket mechanics.

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Understanding the ECU

The new mid-engine Corvette will feature a toughened electronic control unit. The ECU is a computer that controls the engine and other important components. It uses data from sensors to decide how much fuel to inject, or when to spark the coil. Other ECUs manage different systems in the car, including the transmission, lighting, and traction control systems. Together, they share data and help your vehicle run properly. Since the ECUs handle so many critical functions, it’s easy to see why GM would want to limit access to these computers, lest malicious hackers send your brakes haywire or tamper with your transmission.

Now, let’s consider the case of the Corvette. In order to tune the vehicle, you need to access its ECU. That’s easier said than done — it took experts nearly a year to figure out the 2019 Corvette ZR1’s ECU.

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Global B cybersecurity

The new Corvette will be an even tougher nut to crack. The C8 Corvette will feature the automaker’s new ‘Global B’ digital architecture, which allows GM vehicles to communicate and connect to one another. Upcoming GM vehicles will also feature increased autonomous and semi-autonomous driving technology, along with electrification.

In other words, there’s a whole lot riding on the security of a vehicle’s ECU. That’s why GM wants to restrict access to the car’s most vital functions. The new Corvette won’t be untunable, but it might take experts a while figure to out how to crack the ECU’s code.

The new Corvette debuts on July 18, 2019, in California.

Source: GM Authority, Motor Authority, Your Mechanic