Brendan Stone |

FuelTech has released its latest software, version 5.1, for its PowerFT ECU (also known as a VCU or "vehicle control unit") line. The update's most notable highlight is the addition of its Electrification Pack. The newly released software update introduces FuelTech's engine management systems to the world of electric and hybrid drive systems. The software upgrade is compatible with FT600, FT550, and FT450 ECUs.

There are many advantages to adding a FuelTech ECU to an electric or hybrid engine, from power management for maximum performance to data acquisition and operating safeties. While electric and hybrid compatibility has been added to the PowerFT line of ECUs is still fully capable of controlling combustion-powered engines, making it one of the most versatile control units on the market.

The Electrification Pack is broken down into four main blocks of functions—system, drivability, safety, and monitoring. The system segment includes compatibility with the main devices in an electric vehicle such as inverters, Battery Management Systems (BMS), DCDC converters, and on-board chargers. The PowerFT ECU also controls the cooling system, which is critical for optimum battery performance, as well as electric brake booster and vehicle lighting and signaling (like brake and reverse lights).

The drivability is where it begins to get fun. The torque management is a renowned function that has won countless championships and rounds of racing, and it can now be applied to control the instant torque of an electric motor. Regenerative braking is a key component to help extend range and FuelTech’s ECU will reference throttle position, battery charge status, temperatures, and other factors to maximize the re-gen. The engineering staff also included many driving functions like creeping, which allows the vehicle to move slowly when releasing the brake pedal much like how a vehicle with a combustion engine acts with an automatic transmission. Reverse Control can limit torque output as well as maximum speed. And finally, there is a gear controller for those who have paired their EV motor with a traditional manual transmission. This function smooths the torque for easier gear shifting.

The PowerFT ECU monitors all of the vehicle’s functions in real-time in order to make the best decisions with operating limits for voltage and maximum values for charge and discharge current, as well as battery temperature. This is a built-in safety measure to ensure the batteries operate properly and to their highest potential. The safety routines run continuously whether the vehicle is running, charging, or in stand-by mode. An important but not overlooked safety operation is to protect the motor from reversing direction above a certain vehicle speed.

The monitoring segment of the new software is everything that enthusiasts and professionals come to expect from FuelTech. The dashboard is configurable to deliver the information the driver or tuner demands while datalogging is available for all dedicated channels.

Of course, the PowerFT ECUs continue to offer the exceptional features and functions such as automatic transmission control, air conditioning, up to 2 CAN ports operating at different frequency signals, activation of a 5A low-side and 7A half H-bridge outputs, and so much more. The ICE-powered machines also benefit from sequential injection and ignition, O2 Closed Loop, data acquisition, traction control, delay box, Boost Controller, and Nitrous Controller.

FuelTech offers vehicle control systems from the most powerful door-slammers winning at the highest professional level drag races to the latest EV and Hybrid technology, that’s the reason you’re seeing #FuelTechEverywhere