Muscle Cars & Trucks reported a few days ago on the advanced encryption written into the ECU in the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette. The condensed version is that, according to the outlet's source, "successfully flash-tuning, reprogramming and otherwise altering the engine control unit to increase power output will be next to impossible." During the reveal event for the Cadillac CT4-V and CT5-V, MCT asked GM President Mark Reuss about the Corvette's new Global B electrical architecture, which is shared with the new Cadillacs, and about that ECU.
The context is that the Global B system has been designed to serve the next decade of GM vehicles, capable of supporting advanced driver aids like Super Cruise, full autonomy, far greater and constant connectivity that enables features such as over-the-air updates, the growing importance of cloud computing, and electric vehicles. Reuss' comments have to do with the primary threat to such a system: hacking. Calling the cybersecurity component "very, very robust," Reuss told MCT, "Global B I think is going to be the standard of the industry in terms of the encrypted messaging that travels on our bus between modules. There's a clean side and dirty side to that."
That includes the C8 Corvette, naturally, which brings us to the Reuss' pertinent comment about that ECU: "I don't wanna cut anybody out from an aftermarket standpoint, but we have to pick and choose who are the good guys."
We didn't speak to Reuss about the matter, so we aren't sure if we're missing anything about that line. Taken by itself, the line makes less sense the more we think about it.
As we discussed in the first post, GM has gotten cleverer at making life difficult for the aftermarket lately, if not exactly cutting tuners out. The ECU in GM's 2017 trucks with the L5P Duramax diesel took two years to crack, and it would be truer to call the tuner's result a rebuilt chip. The E99 ECU in the 2019 Corvette ZR1 took a year to crack — to rebuild, rather, by the same tuners who'd worked the Duramax ECU.
And as MCT points out, certain 2019-model-year GM trucks are still waiting on aftermarket tuning solutions. One forum member said he spoke to a principal at a popular truck tuner last week and was told, "he can tune the 5.3L AFM [Active Fuel Management] with 6 speed auto - no go on the 5.3L DFM [Dynamic Fuel Management] with 8 speed auto. Not now and possibly not ever."
As for choosing who are the good guys, we don't recall seeing GM anoint aftermarket upgrades beyond in-house efforts from GM Performance Motor, Chevrolet Performance, and the like. But hey, anything is possible. Given the encryption tools GM would have with a brand new, dedicated platform GM consulted with the military on, who knows how many flaming hoops will be involved in cracking the C8 Corvette code, or what kind of digital red carpets will be rolled out for the good guys. For the not-so-good guys and their customers, though, breaking in likely won't be easy, nor quick, nor cheap.