We speak to Danny Kubasik, Managing Director and Founder of mcchip-dkr, the German chip tuners offering vehicle software optimization. His current role is providing software development technical support & technical support.
How did you evolve?
I was always interested in cars. When I was a student in 2001, I worked on the first Golf Mk4 and europeans cars like the Audi A4 and A6 for my friends. It was all about changing the software of all of their cars. I had to do a practical project submission six months later for my school. Six months after my graduation, I started mcchip-dkr.
It was just software upgrades at the beginning, but when interest in my tuning eventually started to grow, I started to sell our packages with software and exhaust systems, bigger turbos, etc.
Our dealers worldwide have the tools to read and write the software, and it’s all done in Germany. Within 90 minutes, they’ll get the performance software map.
How many cars have you tuned so far?
I don’t know! Well as a gauge, we do approximately 1,500 files a year!
Do you have racing experience?
I am the driver of Raeder Motorsport, driving the Audi TT-RS. We contest all these in races to see if they work for our customers on the road. We also build race cars and support race teams with software and diagnostics as well.
We also rebuild cars now for racing as well as track days. We just don’t do styling. We’ve gathered good partnerships with KW, Recaro. Partly because I share the driver’s seat of the TT-RS with Elmar Deegner, owner of Recaro, Jürgen Wohlfarth, owner of KW and Christoph Breuer, owner of Raeder Motorsport!
Do you have partnerships with performance hardware manufacturers?
Yes, the companies which just sell hardware, contacted us to get partnership because they needed the software for their hardware. For us, we could get a good step into the hardware market. For example, Cargraphics, a manufacturer of performance components supercars, especially for the Porsche, contacted us to get a software solution for their exhaust systems and bigger turbo kits. We also sell supercharger kits for the Mercedes-Benz C63 and the new V8 Audi S4/5.
How much gain can you get from software tuning alone?
In a turbo petrol car, up to twenty five percent is possible. For diesel engines, up to thirty percent. On a N/A car, from five to ten percent.
Which car was a real challenge to tune?
Every new car is a challenge. We spend a lot of time on our in-house dyno, one of the latest in Europe, with the biggest air conditioning and air flow. It’s all about trying out to find out what works. Since 2 years ago, it also has been harder to tune the cars right.
A lot of manufacturers have protected the engine management unit (ECU) to prevent tuners to gain access into the code. We don’t use piggyback computers or “powerboxes”, we always believe in using the original software and changing the parameters of the original software instead.
What’s the biggest market for tuning?
Trucks, though these are more tuned for fuel economy, which is big business. We had a project involving tuning twenty Caterpillar trucks in Turkey – resulting in a fuel economy improvement of nearly 50 percent. With that amount of fuel savings, that is why fuel economy tuning is big business!
I want to start chip tuning now…
I think you’re very late. It’s going to cost a lot of money and time. When I started, it was easy to understand the ECUs, but as today’s ECUs are ten times more complex. If you want to start from zero, its possible, but its very hard!
Bummer. Well then, how do you think tuning will evolve?
It will be tougher with harder-to-crack ECUs, but we’ll be investing more time and money into developing newer systems and tuning tools. The “cheap and copy” tuners will have a harder time next year. I foresee that running costs of keeping up to date with developing technologies will get more and more expensive.