With the upcoming mid-engine Corvette C8 just around the corner, some have wondered if GM’s new, fully-digital electronics architecture will be so heavily encrypted, that it’ll prevent tuners from fiddling with the supercar’s performance. And now, website Muscle Cars and Trucks recently released a claim that it will be impossible to tune the Corvette C8 and that the car’s new super brain will “brick” the car if it notices any attempted tuning.
GM hasn’t commented on the claim, but we have some thoughts on the matter, specifically as it relates to the tuning potential for the future mid-engine Corvette.
Yes, the Corvette C8 is bound to encrypt its vehicle management software, something common to modern automobiles. From what we know about GM’s new fully-digital car platform, one of its many purposes is to protect cars with autonomous driving functionality from being hacked. When faced with incomplete or incompatible software, these systems would typically default to a failsafe mode, reducing engine power and – potentially – preventing the car from moving. However, full-on tuning efforts that utilize properly fleshed-out hardware and software, developed according to a full understanding of the vehicle’s electrical system, is a whole different game.
In fact, it seems as though we see the “it won’t be tunable” threat surface each time a new sports/performance car comes to market. Meanwhile, tuners complain that the car will restrict tuning, that nothing can be done, and that the days of tinkering with the car’s powertrain are over. To that end, we must admit that recent developments in vehicle electrical systems haven’t made things easy for tuners. For instance, GM had locked the ECU of the C7 Corvette ZR1 to prevent tuners from fiddling with it… yet it still ended up being modified, albeit not before seeing a few challenges.
In fact, the current C7 Corvette also launched with several layers of security, similar to what is described by Muscle Cars and Trucks for the C8, yet that hasn’t prevented the car from being tuned to sky-high levels.
Think of it as a cat-and-mouse game of sorts: each time a new car – especially one with a new control system – comes out, tuners run into difficulties modifying the vehicle. But after trying new techniques and developing new ways of thinking, they eventually figure it out.
And that’s exactly what we predict will happen with the Corvette C8: GM’s new brain will cause some headaches for tuners in the beginning, but the secret (tuning) sauce will be found at some point. And then, tuners will be able to modify the ZERV in whatever way they desire.
The mid-engine Corvette C8 is set for a debut this summer on July 18th. We can’t wait.