When a manufacturer designs an engine’s electronic management system, it has to weigh up between several different objectives such as reliability, emissions levels and performance. In most circumstances, performance loses out to durability and emissions, meaning the final output of the motor can often be significantly lower than what the engine is truly capable of. In some cases, carmakers even use the same engine in different models with only a software upgrade to differentiate them, however, final output can be considerably different between each car. That’s why you’ll often see tuning companies offering software upgrades or ECU piggy back systems that can increase an engine’s output without physically altering any of the mechanicals.

These aftermarket systems often go unnoticed by even the vehicle manufacturer, which means the engine won’t void warranty even though the car is running at a higher state of tune. Further, some systems don’t even meet environment and regulatory standards but German authorities are now attempting to put an end to this.

The General German Automobile Association has imposed a rule where aftermarket chip tuners must have their products certified by the TÜV regulatory body or by an officially recognized expert. If they don’t comply, the operating permit of the vehicle will expire and will remain expired even if the chip is removed. The authority has also announced that any ECU upgrades must be notified to insurance agencies, which could mean higher premiums for those owners that modify their cars.

Having experienced the benefits of an ECU upgrade recently in a DMS modified BMW 5-series diesel while in Malaysia for the Formula One, we hope the new rules don’t catch on elsewhere anytime soon.