Upgrading the ECM: Meet Your Car’s Brain

Hi! I’m the Electronic Control Module in your vehicle; my nickname is the ECM. I’m a piece of hardware - a circuit board - powered by software that tells the car how to run. I monitor and communicate with a vast network of control modules and sensors to ensure that every part of your vehicle is operating properly, including providing instructions on how and when to use fuel, at what RPM to idle, how quickly to accelerate, and much more. Basically, I’m your car’s brain.

For too long, the “brain” of your vehicle has been one-size-fits-all, with every driver of the same vehicle relying on the same OEM-provided ECM, no matter how they uniquely drive. But now there’s a better way that lets any driver, of any car, safely maximize its performance without knowing a wink about computers. And that tool comes with LOTS of benefits.

Nearly everyone wants to save on fuel costs. Optimizing the idle RPM is one of the most straightforward ways to do that. A vehicle’s ECM tells the engine to idle at a standard RPM (revolutions per minute), which requires a certain amount of fuel depending on the vehicle's size and model. Now, consider a police patrol car that can idle upwards of 8 hours per shift. The amount of fuel used during idle, multiplied by hours idling, multiplied by multi-car fleets can mean major fuel costs. Just by upgrading the ECM’s software, you tell the engine to idle at a lower RPM, or fewer engine cycles per minute, which requires less fuel. Fleets like Canaveral Port Authority depend on this type of upgrade to save $200 per year per vehicle.

Just as important as savings, environmental sustainability can also be improved. CO2 is one of the byproducts of combustion, that is, the process of burning fuel to create energy. Combustion makes our cars move, but it also can put our air out of balance with too much CO2. Simply put, smarter combustion can mean fewer CO2 emissions. Derive has worked with a major telecom company to upgrade the ECMs in their vehicles with a custom solution that included speed governors, improved fuel management both during idle and cruising, and proper acceleration response. These changes helped save 9,000 tons of CO2 emissions, which is equivalent to removing 1,680 cars from the road!

Once you upgrade the ECM, you can improve all of your vehicle’s control systems without affecting the vehicle’s ability to do its job. In fact, your vehicle is better and more efficient at doing what you need it to do.

Remember, ECM = engine control module. Upgraded ECM = a much more optimized vehicle experience.