2020 Chevrolet Corvette C8 Will Have Encrypted ECU to Deter Third-Party Tuning: Report

GM’s new global electrical system, which the next-gen Corvette reportedly uses, is so secure that it’ll be off-limits to anyone but Chevy.

byJames Gilboy|
Aftermarket photo

Chevrolet's upcoming eighth-generation Corvette, or "mid-engined C8"  as it's known to its fans, has an electrical control system reportedly so complex and secure that third-party attempts to tune the factory ECU could potentially "brick" the car.

The 2020 Corvette has been reported to use a new global electrical system framework devised by General Motors, one so complex that working out its kinks allegedly delayed the C8's reveal by six months. According to Muscle Cars & Trucks, this system's nerve center is an Electronic Control Unit (ECU) with security measures so stiff that it'll shrug off most attempts to modify its code. Extreme encryption measures reportedly mean that even reading the ECU's code will be exceptionally tricky for tuners, who have long loved the Corvette for its easy performance gains with slight modification.

Sources allegedly told the publication that the C8's ECU can recognize attempts to modify its code, and that it may shut down while you're working on it to save its factory settings. Should some third-party code make its way into the ECU, the car will reportedly enter a "recovery mode" wherein the car is effectively bricked, meaning it won't start, and won't be tunable with anything other than proprietary GM gear.

Simply replacing the factory ECU with a third-party unit such as a Haltech or Motec unit to bypass this problem is reportedly not such an easy proposition, for reasons unspecified. We speculate that this may be down to the alleged complexity of the C8's electrical system.

GM plans to launch the C8 on July 18 in Orange County, California. There, GM will reportedly announce that the base model will be powered by a dual overhead cam V8 called the LT2, linked to a dual-clutch, seven-speed automatic transmission. Rumors claim that there will be no manual transmission options available at any point and that twin-turbo V8s will eventually be available on the C8's higher trims, in 4.2 or 5.5 liters.