General Motors has converted an all-American 1970s Chevy pick-up to all-electric drive, in its first demonstration of the Electric Connect and Cruise package that Chevrolet Performance plans to sell in the second half of 2021.
The new and yet nostalgic concept vehicle was created by removing the engine and exhaust system from a 1977 Chevrolet K5 Blazer and replacing these with a Bolt EV electric motor and a Chevrolet Performance four-speed automatic.
The rest of the Blazer drivetrain remains untouched, GM claims, including the transfer case, driveshaft and axles. Power is supplied by a 400-volt Bolt EV battery pack with 60 kilowatt-hours of usable energy installed in the cargo area.
The GM team also used production controllers and wiring harnesses to preserve many Bolt EV features, including shock protection, battery heating and cooling, battery-overcharge protection and regenerative braking.
Essentially, the idea has been to keep as much of the stock Blazer pick-up as possible and, where new parts are added, to use around 90 percent factory components from the Chevrolet Bolt EV.
Ultimately, it’s a canny way to bring the auto giant’s old faithful customer base into the electric era.
“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 1977 K5 Blazer-E concept will be showcased at SEMA360 – the Covid-adapted virtual alternative to the annual Las Vegas auto event – and Chevrolet Performance will survey SEMA members interested in building their own electric projects to help finalise the initial eCrate offering.
And demand promises to be strong. According to Russ O’Blenes, Chevrolet’s director of engineering, performance and racing, customers were peppering GM with inquiries about how soon they could build their own EV project, just minutes after the first E-10 concept was unveiled.
“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 says the 60kWh Electric Connect and Cruise package is expected to be available in the second half of 2021, and will include a 60kWh 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 battery heating and cooling.
The aftermarket components will also 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 – including displaying the battery’s state of charge on the original fuel gauge.
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 aims to integrate GM’s modular Ultium battery system technologies.
Meanwhile, Chevrolet Performance is getting busy certifying Electric Connect and Cruise installers, with participating Chevrolet dealers and aftermarket companies set to get specialised training, tools and equipment to work with high-voltage systems and charging stations.
Lingenfelter Performance Engineering in Brighton, Michigan will be the first company to pilot the training and certification program, the car maker said.