Whether you buy it or not, the golden age of gas-powered motoring will one day come to an end, at least on a larger scale. As technology progresses, engineers have continued to find more efficient ways to move your car—including and especially those that originally came with an internal combustion engine. An already burgeoning scene, electric swaps are going to be a big business. And so too might this elegant solution for making them work as well as any factory EV: the Polykup MCU.
We first hear of EV tuner Sam Polyak in 2018 when his Tesla-swapped Audi S5 became the talk of the town. But as we’d later find out, this wasn’t Polyak’s first rodeo. In fact, he has been converting cars to operate on battery power since he first acquired a Mazda MX-3 from a junk yard in 2013, which is when he founded Polykup as an electric vehicle conversion shop. His difficult experience working on those two projects—the swapping process is still messy, rife with custom workarounds and can easily end with a compromised result on newer ICE cars—convinced him that a streamlined solution was necessary. Enter the company’s new Main Computer Unit.
Mounted in the center of the dashboard and replacing the vehicle’s factory head unit is a large touchscreen (not to be confused with Tesla’s similarly named and styled Media Control Unit). Its sleek design and centrally mounted position are aimed to both simplify and beautify the system controls and data readouts of an EV-swapped car. In fact, the MCU completely changes the way a driver interfaces with their vehicle without a gigantic learning curve.
Polykup specifically designed its MCU to be the central hub of an EV-converted vehicle. That means each and every piece of the vehicle that can be controlled over a standard CAN network can be worked into the modular user interface, as can the controls for the electric motor and batteries.
In addition to useful statistics like charge level, battery health, speed, RPM, and more, the MCU also gives the driver the ability to shift between forward and reverse and control regenerative braking right from the main screen. Polykup achieved this by ensuring that the MCU could communicate with a number of different electric motors and battery management systems—meaning a wrecked Tesla isn’t required to make the MCU work with a conversion.
“It covers a lot of the core functionality you would need in a car. You have your speed, your have your RPM, you have your fuel gauge.” Sam Polyak told The Drive. “We added all of the core functionality, but then we’ve also added creature comforts that you would, in our opinion, really need to have in a luxury car”
Speaking of creature comforts, Polykup’s setup is also an infotainment OS. It can play media, take phone calls, and even launch a web browser. Connect the optional LTE dongle and you can even do all of this on the road—that includes over-the-air updates.
Perhaps most impressive, a full custom navigation solution is worked into the MCU. When getting directions, this allow the driver to map out a route with chargers specifically capable of working with their vehicle’s charging outlet, whether it be a CCS Combo, J1772, or even Tesla proprietary connector.
For those that are abhorrently anti-touchscreen, Polykup also provides integration with BMW’s iDrive controls, allowing the hardware to be retrofitted into any vehicle, regardless of the moniker. Of course, the nerd in the room isn’t left out either. The MCU is also capable of logging diagnostic parameters, meaning troubleshooting your own problems can be initiated without the need for an additional tool or data logger.
Polykup’s base unit starts at $999 and can be outfitted with various options and sizes for additional costs. Witnessing more aftermarket support for EV swaps and tuning is highly encouraging. Over the past decade, electrification has made leaps and bounds, slowly becoming more affordable and more aftermarket friendly. Gone are the days of wiring up a series of car batteries to an old industrial motor and hoping for the best—a new dawn is upon us, and Polykup is helping to carry the torch.
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