PMM talks to BHP UK about tuning modern cars and the way the market has changed over the years.
Automobile tuning is as old as the automobile itself. In fact, people were racing cars before cars were even mass produced. Enthusiasts would build their own cars not only for personal transport but also for racing. As production cars became available, enthusiasts would modify them in as many ways as their imagination would allow – some would be looking to race, some would want to create a certain look and some wanted to increase the power output just for more driving pleasure on the road.
“Accessing the market for engine tuning was always the reserve of specialist tuners, but tuning is now too big a market to ignore.”
There will always be the die-hard performance enthusiasts who will spend many times the value of a car modifying it for motorsport or whatever their individual goals are, but times have changed and the hardcore enthusiasts are no longer the biggest part of the market. The biggest part of the market is now the individual who is looking for a little more power or accessories for his daily drive.
The global tuning industry
Japan and the USA are probably the biggest markets for automotive modification in the world, with the market in the USA valued at around $40 billion. Car manufacturers are savvy to the tuning industry and many will work closely with an approved tuner or will have in- house tuning available. BMW works with Alpina and AC Schnitzer and Mercedes have AMG. In Japan, manufacturers also take the industry very seriously and Toyota established its Toyota Technical College to nurture and grow talent in the tuning industry.
Britain plays a huge part in the tuning industry and has the largest racing car industrial market in the world, with almost every F1 team being located here. This puts us at the forefront of development and Britain is a hotbed of tuning talent.
Modern tuning and ECU remapping
In the past, to gain any power increase from an engine, you would need to replace or upgrade engine components. Modern engines, however, are controlled by an ECU. The ECU will need to be at the heart of any planned engine tuning. Replacing components for hot up parts will be fruitless, unless the ECU is remapped to compensate. In fact, a remarkable improvement in performance can be achieved simply by altering the program on the ECU – a procedure known as remapping.
More ambitious tuning involving upgrading engine components such as bigger turbos, inlet and exhaust cams, intake kits or bigger intercoolers will need the ECU remapping to make the modifications have any effect.
What this means for the independent garage
Accessing the market for engine tuning was always the reserve of specialist tuners, but tuning is now too big a market to ignore. It is now easy for independents to capitalise on this market, by means of a dealership from BHP UK. You will need to read the data from the ECU using the supplied ECU reader and send that to BHP UK, which will make the necessary modifications and send back the file for you to upload onto the ECU using the same equipment that was used to read the ECU.