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Is it worth it to make a career in gasoline/diesel tuning?

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Hi,

So before investing thousands in dynos, tools, laptops, garage and more tools, I would like you opinion on whether this is like specialising on VHS when DVD was coming out.

Its quite clear to me that electric vehicles will dominate the industry in the short to medium term but I cannot feel excited by them...

Question is if you were starting now would you focus on petrol/diesel tuning or elsewhere?

Electric tuning, is there such a thing?

Curious to hear your views

Paulo

short or medium term? I don't know about that. You live in Portugal. How many people in Portugal can afford Tesla's that cost 50 thousand dollars (cheapest Model 3 you can buy)? Even in the US that's a lot. Other EV's are mostly slow and boring or don't sell well right now.

If you're thinking 30 to 40 years down the line, yeah there's a chance it could be a problem. In my 15 year career I will say that the shops that go under are the ones that do poor quality work OR the ones that work on very specialized cars that go out of production. So for example, here in the US any shop that can work on Ford or GM vehicles always has tons of work, because so many Mustangs, Camaros, and Corvettes are around. If it's something more specialized like Mitsubishi's then you could have a problem.

What I will say is this. With all the complicated electrified powertrains coming, most of the steady work will be in reflash tuning. It's already pretty hard to put a full standalone on many modern cars. When you have a combustion engine, a small electric motor, and an ebooster you can pretty much forget it. And reflash tuning options are limited for lower volume cars (Volvo for example). Since you are in Europe, try something like BMW or Volkswagen or Ford products to work on. Don't pick oddball stuff.

Straight up fully electric powertrains in high share of the market are 10 or more years away. Having some kind of electric thing (48 volt assist motor, full hybrid, whatever) on almost every new vehicle will be here in 5 years unless you live in an emerging market with less strict regulation, or if you live in the US and the government freezes the emission regulations like they say they are going to do.

Also, long term outlook for diesels are pretty bad due to upcoming regulation. Some places are trying to ban them altogether; some OEMs are moving away from them. In a lot of cases the emission equipment is so expensive that people will choose petrol engine + electric motor over some kind of diesel. If you want to tune diesels go ahead, but don't do it exclusively if you are in European market. In the US it's different; it's mostly big diesel pickup trucks, and those aren't going away any time soon.

I think that EV will definitely impact the performance aftermarket but I don't know if that's really a massive concern in the next 10 years. Ultimately there is always going to be some place in the market for gasoline engine tuning even if they do become relics to a degree. What I'd keep in mind is that there's inevitably going to be a market also for EV tuning. I have no idea what that may look like right now or what knowledge an EV tuner is going to need, however as long as people want their cars to go faster, there will always be a market there. Provided you've got an open mind and are prepared to keep learning, there's probably no reason why a gas engine tuner can't move across to EV modifications when we have the tools available to allow the factory EV controls to be accessed and modified.

EV tuning will be an interesting problem. Right now auto manufacturers leave power on the table in pursuit of meeting emissions regulations. With an electric motor that won't be a consideration. Right now the biggest limitation is the battery packs. It's quite easy to take an EV and put a larger traction motor on it. But drawing excessive current from the battery pack will reduce the life span and number of charge cycles it can endure. Battery packs aren't cheap.

I've been involved in modifying a BMW i3 and convering it from the stock 130kw motor to over 200kw. The batteries get hot and they don't last long.

When it comes to the traction motors the current prize is preventing thermal runaway. As the motors get hot the internal resistance of the windings go up and generate more heat which generates more heat. On the upper limit you can push the windings to about 180 C before you start to get degradation in the insulation. There are some rather difficult to obtain materials like krypton and pfte coated magnet wires good to above 260 C.

While this may not prevent thermal runaway it allows you to get a little bit more temporary peak power.