There are six weeks in which Chevrolet shows off the C8 mid-engine Corvette at an event in Orange County, California, and that's enough time for more rumors. The latest comes from Muscle Cars & Trucks, where sources are cited as saying that "successfully adjusting, reprogramming and otherwise modifying the engine control unit to increase power is almost impossible." According to the story, the Digital Vehicle Platform of General Motors contains provisions to prevent the aftermarket from adjusting for the new sports car.
MCT claims that the anti-hacking coding written in the electronic control module blocks any attempt to read, write and / or replace the standard ECU of the C8. If the ECU detects such an effort and that "programming event failed", the Corvette will open a "recovery mode" that requires a restart. The coupe can be reprogrammed, but only by an entity with the correct encryption keys, which means a ride on a flatbed to the dealer.
It is not surprising that people are not sure what to make of this report. Car and Driver thinks that the encryption that MCT is talking about is more about the anti-vehicle hacking measures in the Digital Vehicle Platform, intended to prevent bad actors from taking over a car. This is especially true for an autonomous car, because the new architecture was designed with the next decade of mobility developments in mind.
The idea of blocked ECU's is not new. European car manufacturers have introduced code to keep aftermarket fiddlers out of their motorbays for years. The Nissan GT-R was billed as a non-hinkable ECU when it was launched. Even the current C7 Corvette uses measures to inhibit tuning. We see how all these examples ended.
On the other hand, if we look at GM & # 39; s ECM coding from 2017 on its Duramax pickups and next-order coding on the 2019 Corvette ZR1, there could be a little more content to the MCT report. GM started installing new VIN-specific ECU software on its L5P Duramax trucks in 2017 and it was still not hacked by the forums in 2018. Depending on your definition of "cracked" versus "rebuilt" Houston-based HP tuners unlocked the L5P, but it didn't happen until August last year and there are a lot of asterisks involved according to a story in the Diesel World magazine. There are also substantial costs – $ 1,800 to $ 2,500 to exchange a share of L5P Duramax ECM for a tuned version and another $ 300 for the MPVI2 tool to flash the ECM.
The Corvette ZR1 coding went even further than on Duramax trucks, with VIN-specific rolling codes and constantly evolving digital signatures that can be changed or restored via OnStar when changes are detected. John Hennessey said that he tried to crack the E99 ECU for 11 months, but it was not possible and was about to give up the ZR1. HP Tuners has cracked the code again, but that didn't happen until April 2019, and the ECU exchange is again expensive, from $ 2,000 to $ 2,500. Hennessey & # 39; s HPE1200 tune for the ZR1 came out that same month.
Nothing will stop tuners from trying of course. But it is possible that the C8 Corvette makes tuning much more difficult than before.