As part of their 2020 Speciality Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA) show vehicle lineup, Chevy has converted a 1977 K5 Blazer into an electric vehicle. This is part of its plan to offer a Connect and Cruise eCrate package for people to do their own EV builds.
The Chevy crate engine program is well known by classic car enthusiasts as a way to purchase new engines for their old rides. Building on top of this is the Connect and Cruise package, which is designed to supply the engine and transmission plus, often, wiring and other items to swap out the old for the new.
This new Blazer EV concept uses the Chevy Bolt EV electric motor powertrain utilizing approximately 90% of the factory components while, rather oddly, mating this electric powertrain to a four-speed automatic transmission. Typically, EVs don’t have a transmission per se; it is a direct drive — aka one-speed transmission — since the vehicle doesn’t need gears.
EV performance with Blazer off-road capability
Power is supplied by a 400-volt Bolt EV battery pack with 60 kilowatt-hours installed in the cargo area (goodbye rear passenger seating). By using most of the Bolt EVs factory equipment, Chevy was able to keep key features such as shock protection, battery heating and cooling, battery-overcharge protection and regenerative braking.
With this powertrain, the performance is much improved. Gone is the old 400 cubic-inch V-8 producing 175 horsepower while mated to a three-speed automatic as well as the fuel system and exhaust. The EV ramps up the performance to 200 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque. The rest of the Blazer — such as the transfer case, driveshaft and axles — is untouched.
On the Blazer EV concept, Chevy installed several aftermarket components such as electric power steering, brake booster and a new electronic controller for the vintage gauges to display new information like the battery’s current charge on the original fuel gauge.
The eCrate program came out of the response to the eCOPO Camaro from the 2018 SEMA show which was followed up with a Chevrolet E-10 in 2019 among other vehicles like these 2019 Chevy Silverado trucks.
Chevy says they are going to be a part of this year’s virtual event and will survey the audience members to see if there is enough interest to push forward with this program.
If enough people are interested, Chevy will come up with pricing and ordering information. However, Chevy also says the eCrate won’t be offered any sooner than the second half of 2021. Seems like they already made up their mind to offer such a package.
The bottom line on the electric vehicle eCrate
Converting classic trucks and cars into electric vehicles is rather controversial among classic vehicle enthusiasts. For many of classic car fans, seeing the older engines work, hearing the exhaust and feeling the rumble of the engine is part of the thrill. Swapping to an EV platform, the performance improves with the electric vehicle’s quick response, however, some of the visceral thrill of driving is gone (the sound, smell, etc.).
On the other hand, most classic cars are driven very short distances if they are driven at all with lots of trailer and garage queens out there. An EV platform would make a lot of sense for vehicle owners, and the new technology would likely make classic cars more reliable than fiddling with often temperamental old gasoline engines.
Where do you stand? Sound off in the comments.