GM Performance is about to launch its EV conversion kit and is showing it at SEMA360.
The demonstration vehicle GM has chosen to show off its new EV conversion package is a 1977 K5 Blazer. The vehicle will act as a functional proof of concept of the upcoming Electric Connect and Cruise package Chevrolet Performance plans to sell in the second half of 2021. Chevy is bringing the Blazer to SEMA360, the online show that will take the place of the live event this year.
“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.”
One of those customers that Chevy is searching for with its eCrate product is GM-Trucks.com’s friend, Craig Fitzgerald. Craig restored a ’78 Blazer, and his work on it caught our attention when he painted it with Rustoleum and a roller. Craig says an eCrate powerplant would not have been ideal for his vision of the Blazer, but it may have been perfect for another project car. “What I would’ve loved an EV power plant in, though, was my Corvair,” Says Craig. “I definitely thought about an EV conversion, but assembling a home-grown kit is a project that was beyond my level of interest. Being able to buy a crate motor with everything to make it work would’ve been really attractive to me.”
The first step in Chevy’s conversion of the 1977 K5 Blazer was to remove the original 175-horsepower 400 cubic-inch V-8, three-speed automatic, fuel system, and exhaust from the Blazer. Then, the Chevy then team installed a Bolt EV electric motor, delivering 200 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque, coupled to a Chevrolet Performance electronically controlled four-speed automatic. For added simplicity, the rest of the Blazer drivetrain remains untouched, including the transfer case, driveshaft and axles.
The juice is supplied by a 400-volt Bolt EV battery pack with 60 kilowatt-hours of usable energy installed in the cargo area. The package used production controllers and wiring harnesses. This preserves many Bolt EV features, including shock protection, battery heating and cooling, battery-overcharge protection and even regenerative braking.
The engine in the vintage Blazer does more than just drive the wheels. So an aftermarket component kit is added. This kit includes an electric power steering kit, an electric pump providing vacuum to the stock brake system, and an electronic controller to drive inputs to the vintage Blazer gauges – such as displaying the battery’s state of charge on the original fuel gauge.
GM plans to have its package ready for sale in the second half of 2021. It will include:
-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
To prepare for the eCrate product line offering, Chevrolet Performance is certifying Electric Connect and Cruise installers across America. These will include participating Chevrolet dealers and aftermarket companies, who will receive the training, tools and equipment needed to work with high-voltage systems and charging stations to service customers’ vehicles. The very fist installer is a name we all know and trust, Lingenfelter Performance Engineering in Brighton, Michigan.
“Minutes after Chevrolet showed the E-10 concept, 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.”
Chevrolet Performance is also planning future eCrate packages with higher-performance options and new battery configurations to fit a wider range of aftermarket applications. Once the Ultium line is up and running, the team will work to integrate GM’s modular Ultium battery system technologies.