Biofuels Syvecs Standalone ECU on Mercedes-Benz R230 V12

Published on May 25th, 2016 | by Jo Borrás

Where Have You Been? (the Standalone ECU Edition)

May 25th, 2016 by  
 

If you’ve been paying attention to Gas 2’s bylines recently, you’ve probably noticed a lot more Steve and a lot less Jo in recent weeks. That’s because Speedriven has been hard at work developing a bespoke “standalone ECU” solution for vehicle management. An ECU that would enable some of the most complex cars in the world to easily be converted to flex-fuel, ethanol, or even CNG applications. On the fly. And, a few days ago, Speedriven announced that they’d done it.

 

Speedriven / Syvecs Standalone Running SL65 AMG


That video up there is something that might seem mundane, but you’re looking at a successfully installed and operated standalone engine control system based on the Syvecs-developed S12 board. The system has been specially designed to “plug n’ play” into a highly complicated Mercedes SL65 AMG roadster with a level of systems integration that would fool even the most sensitive Mercedes drivers into believe nothing had changed at all.

So, what does that have to do with why I’ve been away? As some of you already know (disclaimer in 3… 2… 1…) Speedriven is my 9-5, so when they’re super-busy, I’m super-busy.

In the interest of Speedriven staying super-busy, then, I’ve included the “official” press release put out by Speedriven, below, along with a couple of pictures of what the prototype Syvecs-based system looks like running on the R230-style SL65 AMG. Enjoy!

 

Speedriven Standalone Mercedes ECU is Go!


Syvecs Standalone ECU on Mercedes-Benz R230 V12

Earlier this week, Chicago-area tuning firm Speedriven announced that it had successfully installed and operated a standalone engine control system into a highly complicated Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG roadster, marking the first time an aftermarket tuner has fully integrated such a system into a Mercedes-Benz.

The standalone solution Speedriven has been developing for their Mercedes-Benz and AMG customers completely replaces the factory computer, taking over the many demands of the cars’ engine and transmission while giving the tuner full control over all of the car’s systems.

Control is a key theme here, and- as we learned from the now-famous Pirelli ad, “power is nothing, without control”. The most iconic version of that ad campaign featured US Olympic track runner, Carl Lewis, crouched in a starting stance while wearing a set bright red stiletto-heeled women’s shoes. More than twenty years after Pirelli’s ad hit magazines, its message still rings true- but it’s not usually a car’s tires that are holding back its performance potential. It’s the limitations built into the car’s computers from the factory.

“It’s kind of ironic, really,” says Speedriven’s Jo Borras. “The car’s ECUs (Engine Control Units) have gotten so good that you can have a five or six-hundred horsepower daily driver that gets decent mileage and runs cleaner than ever, but the manufacturers have locked them down with so much encryption and so many safety nannies that the guys who want to convert their cars into race cars have to constantly fight the technology for control over the car’s systems. That’s where the real need for an independent, standalone solution comes from.”

“Take the newest twin-turbo cars from AMG,” continues Jo. There are a few guys out there who have put big turbos on these cars and really gone through the transmission hardware. They’ve spent a ton of money to make power- but their cars are barely any faster than the guys’ who’ve hardly done anything to their track cars. That’s because they’re limited by an interaction between the factory ECU and the transmission controller (TCU). The TCU is calculating torque on the fly- as it happens. Once torque reaches a certain level that’s been programmed in at the factory, the TCU sends a signal to the ECU to cut power that it is hard-wired to obey. That’s a bit of an over-simplification, but the idea is there. No matter how much you do to the engine or transmission, if you don’t have control over the electronics, all that go-fast hardware means nothing.”

That’s just one example of a major performance limitation imposed by a factory ECU. In addition to delivering the complete control necessary to push the envelope of Mercedes-Benz performance tuning, however, the standalone allows Speedriven to develop features for these cars that they’ve never had. These range from exciting features like launch control and rolling anti-lag to more mundane features like a push-button pit lane speed limiter.

The standalone control system allows radically different hardware to be utilized, as well. “If you change the final drive ratio on a V12 Mercedes with a factory ECU, you have to jump through a lot of programming hoops. Now, we can put a much stronger 9” rear end in these cars and not only change gears very quickly to accommodate different tracks, we can also bring the car’s electronics up to speed just as quickly,” says Jo. “That’s a game changer in the Mercedes tuning world- and it’s only one of maybe five or six game-changers that come as part of the standalone package.”

The first Speedriven-built car to heavily feature the standalone will be the latest version of the “Red Dragon”. That’s the same SL65 AMG Black Series clone that became the quickest V12 Mercedes-Benz in the world last year with a 9.97 second ¼ mile pass at more than 141 MPH. The standalone ECU will enable the SL to handle a variety of fuels, a heavily revised transmission and driveline, a fully built and blueprinted engine, and a pair of massive turbos that the company- and the car’s owner!- believe will bring an entirely new dimension of tuning possibilities to the Mercedes aftermarket.

 

Source | Images: Speedriven.





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About the Author

I've been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.



  • SoyBoySigh

    Sorry if this is a noob question, but is this thing suitable to run EFI on Classic Superbikes, CB900F KZ1000 etc ? – as an alternative to the go-to unit “Microsquirt” – Or is this just massive over-kill in that application? And we’re looking at alternative fuels for non diesel engines, too? I’d be curious about being able to take gear from that little Aprilia 50cc scooter with the direct injection, retro-fit all of that stuff to a bigger, multi-cylinder too-smoke stinkwheels, some type of RD500 or NSR400 etc – TZ750 ideally – and to be able to tune on the direct injection just like it’s any other EFI system. Would be helpful to bringing one of those ’70s-’80s blue smog belching pariahs, into the modern age – give ’em a GREENER outcome. Seems like a pipe-dream to be sure – but this is the type of thing that could get us there. Ennit?

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