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Chevy Shows It's Serious About Electric Drive With Retrofitted '77 K5 Blazer-E

Mark Vaughn Oct 29 2020

GM

GM

 

  • K5 Blazer-E is an electric retrofit
  • Uses GM's coming crate motor
  • Available in second half of 2021

 

Electric Connect and Cruise packages will be on sale next year.

 

When Chevrolet introduced its all-electric eCOPO Camaro drag car at SEMA in 2018, it was a real gamechanger, taking even the traditional bracket-racing musclecar into the realm of clean, green power. Then last year it showed the E-10 pickup truck at SEMA, demonstrating that its electric Connect and Cruise package could go into a variety of project cars and trucks. Now at this year’s SEMA360 virtual industry trade show, Chevy has another electro-winner—the 1977 K5 Blazer-E, an all-electric retrofitted SUV meant to gauge interest among SEMA members who may want to do their own EV conversions using the electric equivalent of a crate motor.

Chevy will be surveying SEMAtites to see which cars, trucks and SUVs they were thinking of converting to electric drive, and to see if they’d consider a plug-n-play package like GM’s Electric Connect and Cruise kit.

 

The 60-kWh battery pack takes up most of the bed, but a little more packaging engineering could get it in right. GM

The 60-kWh battery pack takes up most of the bed, but a little more packaging engineering could get it in right.

GM
 
 
“As GM introduces a new fleet of electric vehicles, it creates an exciting opportunity to bring EV technology to the aftermarket,” said Jim Campbell, GM U.S. vice president of Performance and Motorsports. “Our vision is to offer a comprehensive line of Connect and Cruise systems from Chevrolet Performance – delivering a solution for every customer ranging from LSX V-8s to eCrate conversions.”

The K5 Blazer-E started life as a real 1977 K5 Blazer. Then engineers ripped out the engine, transmission, gas tank and exhaust—all the stuff it wouldn’t need as an EV. With that done there was room for the eCrate package, which was 90-percent factory components from the Chevrolet Bolt EV.

 

The 60-kWh Electric Connect and Cruise package includes:

  • 60-kWh battery pack
  • 200-horsepower electric motor
  • DC-to-AC power inverter to drive the electric motor
  • DC-to-DC power converter to power low-voltage systems
  • Wiring harnesses, controllers and water pumps for battery heating and cooling

 

Gauges show battery state of charge instead of gas. GM

Gauges show battery state of charge instead of gas.

GM
 
 

Power for the Blazer-E comes from a 400-volt Bolt EV battery pack with 60kWh of usable energy installed in the cargo area. The output is about 200 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque, more than the stock ’77 Blazer’s 175 hp from a 400 cubic-inch gasoline V8. So it’s ahead of the game already. Torque is routed through a Chevrolet Performance electronically controlled four-speed automatic and thence to the remaining stock ’77 Blazer transfer case, driveshaft, differential and axles.

New parts include an electric power steering kit, an electric pump to send vacuum pressure to the stock brake system, and an electric controller to drive inputs to the vintage Blazer gauges now showing battery state of charge where the fuel gauge used to be, for instance.

The packages will be available in the second half of 2021. No word on prices yet.

“It’s too soon to discuss pricing as we have not finalized the components included in the eCrate system,” said a Chevy spokesman. “This is a key reason we are surveying SEMA members. Understanding what components they would need for their EV builds will help as we finalize the parts lists for our initial eCrate packages.”

There’s more to it than just this one concept Blazer, of course.

“To prepare for the eCrate launch, Chevrolet Performance is certifying Electric Connect and Cruise installers,” Chevy said. “Participating Chevrolet dealers and aftermarket companies will receive the training, tools and equipment needed to work with high-voltage systems and charging stations to service customers’ vehicles.”

Lingenfelter Performance Engineering in Brighton, Michigan, known for performance Corvettes, will be the first company to pilot the training and certification program. This experience will help inform the certification process for future installers.

Chevy is also looking at eCrate packages with even higher-performance, as well as new battery configurations to fit a wider range of aftermarket applications. Longer term, the team will work to integrate GM’s modular Ultium battery system technologies into eCrates and Electric Connect and Cruise packages.

“Minutes after Chevrolet showed the E-10 concept (last year), customers started calling to ask how soon they could build their EV project,” said Russ O’Blenes, Chevrolet director of engineering, Performance and Racing. “The K5 Blazer-E demonstrates what is possible for customers who want to convert their vintage truck to a daily driver with the instant torque and unique driving experience of an EV. For customers who want more extreme performance, the modular eCrate system will have virtually limitless applications.”

Chevy hasn’t forgotten its non-electric customers, though. It reminds us that more information about its more traditional aftermarket offerings featured at SEMA360, including new performance parts for the 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban and full portfolio of crate engines, can be found at Chevrolet.com/SEMA.

 

SOURCE: Autoweek

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