Chevrolet Previews Upcoming Aftermarket Electric Powertrain

Chevrolet of Detroit’s General Motors Co. has converted a 1977 K5 Blazer to all-electric propulsion to demonstrate the viability of its upcoming Electric Connect and Cruise package it plans to offer in mid 2021.
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1977 K5 Blazer
Chevrolet has converted a 1977 K5 Blazer to all-electric propulsion to demonstrate the viability of its upcoming electric vehicles. // Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

Chevrolet of Detroit’s General Motors Co. has converted a 1977 K5 Blazer to all-electric propulsion to demonstrate the viability of its upcoming Electric Connect and Cruise package it plans to offer in mid 2021.

As Chevrolet introduces electric vehicles, certifies installers, and sends tools and equipment to dealers and aftermarket companies, Lingenfelter Performance Engineering in Brighton will be the pilot company for the training and certification program.

The Blazer is being showcased at SEMA360, a trade industry show being held virtually next week. During the event, Chevrolet Performance will survey SEMA members interested in building their own electric projects to help finalize Chevrolet’s initial eCrate offering.

“As GM introduces a new fleet of electric vehicles, it creates an exciting opportunity to bring EV technology to the aftermarket,” says Jim Campbell, vice president of performance and motorsports for GM U.S. “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.”

Chevrolet first previewed the eCrate conversion concept with the Chevrolet eCOPO Camaro in 2018, followed by the Chevrolet E-10 in 2019. Discoveries from these vehicles helped inform Chevrolet’s Electric Connect and Cruise strategy.

Campbell says the K5 Blazer-E retains as much of the stock Blazer as possible, and about 90 percent of the new parts installed for the eCrate package are factory components from the Chevrolet Bolt EV.

The team removed the original 175-horsepower, 400 cubic-inch V-8, three-speed automatic, fuel system, and exhaust. Then, it installed a Bolt EV electric motor, delivering 200 horsepower and 266 lb.-ft. of torque, paired with a Chevrolet Performance electronically controlled four-speed automatic. The rest of the Blazer drivetrain remains untouched, including the transfer case, driveshaft, and axles.

“Minutes after Chevrolet showed the E-10 concept, customers started calling to ask how soon they could build their EV project,” says Russ O’Blenes, director of engineering, for Chevrolet 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.”

Power is supplied by a 400-volt Bolt EV battery pack with 60 kilowatt-hours of usable energy installed in the cargo area. It has many Bolt EV features including shock protection, battery heating and cooling, battery overcharge protection, and regenerative braking.

Aftermarket components include 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.

The 60 kilowatt-hour Electric Connect and Cruise package includes a 60 kilowatt-hour 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; and wiring harnesses, controllers, and water pumps for heating and cooling.

Campbell says Chevrolet Performance is also evaluating additional eCrate packages with higher-performance options and 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.

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