Founder/CEO, COBB Tuning
A resounding theme among the most knowledgeable tuners is that any particular platform is greater than the sum of its parts. Conversely, the entire platform can suffer if treated as a series of unrelated components. With the ubiquity of fuel injection and computer-controlled systems, having the ability to access all of these functions in the name of producing power is the key to success. Trey Cobb, founder and CEO of COBB Tuning seems to have mastered one corner of this total engine management solution with the ubiquitous COBB AccessPort.
Trey got his start with Mazda RX7 specialists Rotary Performance. As a customer, Trey eventually talked his way into being offered a job with the company, where he helped established the online business and support network. By mid-1999, he had been immersed in the business long enough to feel comfortable starting his own company and COBB Tuning was born.
The company initially focused on Subaru’s 2.5RS until, as Trey says, “the WRX completely changed the landscape of the Subaru tuning market.” With the exploding interest in WRX-related motorsports, COBB Tuning focused more on proving its prowess as tuners by competing in motorsports. These experiences helped establish a portfolio of product design knowledge and transitioned the shop from local tuner to manufacturer.
A side result of this transition to manufacturing lay in the ECU reprogramming technology that COBB Tuning had developed for Subaru ECUs. The AccessPORT allowed tuners to flash the factory ECU, packaging standalone engine-management capabilities into a palm-sized device. As the unit matured, it became the basis of a tuning solution consisting of the hardware, engine management software, a large database of base maps and a network of independent tuners with full tuning capabilities.
“We view vehicles as systems rather than an array of unrelated components, because ‘improving’ one component may reduce the performance of five others and ultimately create a negative result,” Trey remarks. It’s this approach that finds applications for the AccessPORT over a number of popular platforms but no current plans for a universal AccessPORT. “The days of simply throwing a performance part at a car and having positive results are gone. It is a critical part of the performance market and our business strategy to offer full-tuning solutions for platforms we support.”
Trey continues, “A big responsibility we have now is providing shops and tuners with tools and products necessary to adapt to emerging technologies while still providing the results they expect. The new technologies are keeping us challenged in good ways. For us, these technologies are less of an obstacle to tuning and more of a challenge to change long-standing mindsets within performance communities on the best way to tune a platform.”
Cobb’s single-location tuning operation has grown into its current state of being a a globally-recognized manufacturer and distributor with three dedicated tuning-service centers and dozens of authorized tuning partners worldwide. However, Trey plans to continue to lead the company to develop its flagship tool and expand the range of applications, providing tuners with the unlimited access needed in today’s technologically advanced engine-control systems.