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Cybersecurity, Regulations, And Technology Ownership Are Three Major Aftermarket Headwinds

Ford GT

Extracting performance from a vehicle has never been as accessible as it is today. Sure you can head to a dealership and buy several cars with over 700 horsepower if you so choose, but the aftermarket is here to help you crank the dial up to 11 no matter where you’re starting from. However, regulations and cybersecurity concerns are beginning to spell trouble for the aftermarket in the near future. In a conversation with Ford Head of Icons Dave Pericak, the company’s commitment to continue making sure customers can modify their cars in the aftermarket doesn’t appear to have wavered.

“We definitely want to make sure we’re supporting the aftermarket,” said Pericak in an interview with MC&T. “We’re working on what does that look like in the future and how do we enable that. It’s no longer as easy as it was… we don’t have all the answers worked out because technology is rolling so fast and there’s so much coming at us.”

Ford F-150 VelociRaptor
Ford F-150 VelociRaptor V8 by Hennessey.

As cars become more advanced and frankly more complicated, their reliance on their computer systems continues to grow. While we are grateful for the way these bits of code can help us feel like superman behind the wheel, the possible ramifications are scary for aftermarket tuners. In order to ensure their products are safe from malicious tampering, automakers have made it increasingly difficult to crack their ECU systems.

This limits what can be done on the consumers end in terms of modifications, specifically when it comes to making big power. Automakers have done this as a means to get ahead of any security risks, but it has left some of our favorite tuning companies in a weird spot. Ford has recognized this however, and are working towards a solution.

Roush Performance Stage 3 Mustang. Photo via Roush.

“I can assure that we have a team of people working on how do we continue to support that,” said Pericak. “We are working with the SEMA team together to make sure that the aftermarket will be able to continue to modify and have fun with these products.”

We haven’t quite seen yet how Ford plans to continue their support of the aftermarket, though much of the contention between tuners and automakers is ECU cybersecurity. When we asked Pericak about what sort of aftermarket solutions Ford will be supporting, he said that “it depends” on the components, without providing more detail.

Much like we’ve heard elsewhere in the industry, automakers appear willing and in support of finding a tuning solution for the aftermarket. But what that solution might look like remains a mystery.

We will continue to follow this industry-wide topic that affects thousands, as we have from day one here at MC&T. Stay tuned.

Shelby American GT500 SEMA
Shelby American GT500 DragonSnake.

Written by Lucas Bell

Lucas holds a journalism degree from Wayne State University, and is a Automotive Press Association scholarship recipient. While an American muscle fan through and through, he once wrote a fascinating comparison review about eScooters.


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