S650 Mustang Locked ECU Restricts Access to Select Tuners, Here Are Some Names

The aftermarket community has been a part of the Ford Mustang story ever since the 1960s inception of the pony. However, the recent release of the S650 marks a new era in terms of modding, as it appears that the seventh-generation Mustang has switched to a locked ECU.

Encypting the electronic control unit (ECU), aka electronic control module (ECM) or PCM (Powertrain Control Module), comes naturally with a vehicle like the 2024+ Mustang, which will get OTA (over-the-air) updates, as this is a cybersecurity feature.

However, there’s another reason for the change, namely Ford getting to select the aftermarket developers that get access for tuning purposes. This crucial detail has confirmed by YouTuber StangMode (he does mention “it is subject to change”) while filming the 2024 Mustang at the Detroit Auto Show last week.

Now, while the vlogger doesn’t name the upgraded Gen IV Coyote atmospheric 5.0L V8 or the also-revised 2.3L EcoBoost turbo-four in particular, each of these engines has had its fair share of mods on the retiring S550 Mustang, so we’re naturally expecting the restriction to apply to both.

In the video below, he mentions the superharger kits that are the V8 crowd’s favorites, with a famous developer having already announced such a release (more on this below the clip). However, we’re curious to see what this means for the not-so-few EcoBoost owners who would love to squeeze some extra ponies out of their turbocharged engines.

What the S650 Mustang’s locked ECU means for tuners and owners

However, the move also means that plenty of smaller companies, which would handle, say, tunes for mild bolt-ons like the intake and exhaust, will probably be left outside the gates.

The idea of the Blue Oval controlling the list of companies that get to upgrade the S650 engines means removing the risk of getting a tune that could compromise your engine’s reliability. After all, when you pay for a new car, ensuring a certain quality level for any aftermarket work only sounds reasonable.

Now, if jailbreaking is on your mind, you’ll have to consider that these new-generation electric/electronic infrastructures are not just extremely difficult to hack, but such a move would also void the warranty.

For one, the C8 Corvette, which has been in production since February 2020, has yet to see its ECU being cracked. Sure, people have found workarounds, but installing a standalone ECU like vlogger Emelia Hartford did for her Internet-famous twin-turbo C8 (boosting the engine did lead to issues, but it was an all-entertaining journey) comes at a price.

So, while this may or may not be possible, resorting to such a solution may only make sense if you’re into a high-budget build that the said Ford-approved tuners don’t offer. Otherwise, you’d be better off by simply going with what the names on the shortlist have to offer.

Speaking of which, after a brief search, we’ve found a few American names that are already preparing to take the 2024 Mustang into their gyms.

The aftermarket developers that have already teased their 2024 Mustang modifications

The most clear statement of the sort comes from Whipple, which used its social media channels to announce a Gen VI supercharger program for the 2024 Mustang—you’ll find the related Instagram post below.

Nobody expected Shelby American to miss this party. And they obviously won’t, albeit with their Insta post on the matter being more vague. Its caption reads “Shelby American is excited about the new car and all the possibilities it presents,

Steeda took an even less direct approach, as its Instagram post(s) send one to the company’s website. And at the bottom of the latter’s S650 section, which brings in material from the Ford press release, there’s a statement on the R&D the developer is currently undertaking.

“[…] we look forward to helping 2024 Mustang owners personalize their cars and push the pony car past competitors on the track. This 7th generation vehicle offers new opportunities for R&D, and our team is excited to continue pushing the envelope! […] will be a pleasure to highlight where this generation Mustang excels,” Steeda states.

Rendering artists have already done an impressive job with their 2024 Mustang digital builds

Nevertheless, with even the stock horsepower and torque numbers for the revised engines missing right now, there’s plenty of time to get our hands on new details on the seventh-generation Mustang’s aftermarket face. After all, the S650 Ford Mustang first deliveries are scheduled for the summer of 2023 in the US, while European models may start arriving later next year—right-hand drive markets like Australia and the UK might have to wait until the final part of 2023.

Meanwhile, digital artists have dreamt up all sorts of transformations for the S650 Mustang, from this drag strip-ready supercharged iteration to this family-friendly Dark Horse Wagon. And we haven’t even entered the 3D stage of the S650 Mustang rendering realm, even though that shouldn’t take long.

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