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At 2020 SEMA360, Chevrolet will showcase a 1977 K5 Blazer converted to all-electric propulsion. The K5 Blazer-E is a functional proof of concept of the upcoming Electric Connect and Cruise package Chevrolet Performance plans to sell in the second half of 2021.
During the virtual 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," 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."
Building the K5 Blazer-E
Chevrolet first previewed the eCrate conversion concept with the Chevrolet eCOPO Camaro in 2018, followed by the Chevrolet E-10 in 2019. Learnings from those vehicles helped inform Chevrolet's Electric Connect and Cruise strategy.
The new Chevrolet K5 Blazer-E retains as much of the stock Blazer as possible and approximately 90 percent of the new parts installed for the eCrate package are factory components from the Chevrolet Bolt EV.
To convert the 1977 K5 Blazer, the team first removed from the Blazer the original 175-horsepower 400 cubic-inch V-8, three-speed automatic, fuel system and exhaust. Then, the team 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.
Power is supplied by a 400-volt Bolt EV battery pack with 60 kilowatt-hours of usable energy installed in the cargo area. Using production controllers and wiring harnesses preserves many Bolt EV features, including shock protection, battery heating and cooling, battery-overcharge protection and even regenerative braking.
The 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.
eCrate Installer Certification Program
To prepare for the eCrate launch, Chevrolet Performance is certifying Electric Connect and Cruise installers. 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 will be the first company to pilot the training and certification program. This experience will help inform the certification process for future installers.
The 60-kWh Electric Connect and Cruise package, expected to be available in the second half of 2021, includes:
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.
"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."