It seems every car marker these days is diving head first into the EV market which is great for people looking to purchase new cars in the coming years. However that leaves out a large swath of people who like their ICE vehicles and would like to keep it.
Chevrolet has announced in plans to show off a 1977 K5 Blazer—called the Blazer-E—that presents the company’s new eCrate aftermarket powertrain at this years virtual SEMA show. With the Blazer-E, the EV wizards at Chevy swapped out the Blazer’s monstrous 6.6L V8 engine which delivers an unimpressive 175hp (130kW),for a cleaner and faster 200hp (150kW) motor from the Bolt EV. The Bolt EV motor connects to the Blazer’s four-wheel drive system via a four-speed transmission that replaces the original three-speed transmission.
Being all electric, there was no need for the fuel tank and exhaust. So that got trashed which in turn helped reduce the overall weight. For added weight, a 60kWh lithium-ion battery pack was mounted in the Blazer’s cargo area which is also from the Bolt EV and includes all the wiring and power electronics one needs to manage a modern battery EV powertrain.
However the most important part of this announcement is that unlike promises made and broken in the past by other car makers to make available EV conversion kits, Chevrolet has now confirmed that it will in fact sell this electric powertrain to the aftermarket and make it available to anyone looking to transform their ICE vehicle form the past to the future.
“Minutes after Chevrolet showed the E-10 concept [in 2019], 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.”
Chevy’s EV conversion kit is aptly named the ‘Electric Connect and Cruise’ package and it goes on sale in the second half of 2021. It will include a Chevy Bolt EV motor, battery pack, DC-to-AC inverter, a DC-to-DC converter, wiring harnesses, controllers, and water pumps for battery heating and cooling. It’s pretty much like buying a Bolt EV without the basic looking Bolt EV. Chevy also putting together a certification program for installers, beginning with Lingenfelter Performance Engineering—builder of wild Corvettes—in Michigan.
For those speed demons who need more than 200hp to even get out of bed in the morning, Chevy says it’s considering some higher-performance ideas and in time will also offer Ultium battery packs. I have always thought that there should be a space and market between EV’s and ICE’s because not everyone will an EV convert and you have to find a way to allow them to keep their ICE cars while also making them cleaner.
However just sticking an electric motor onto the end of an ICE transmission is can only be a temporary solution at best because not building your EV from the ground up means you lose power, you keep a bunch of extra weight and most of the gears are useless. It’s definitely the easy way out but it cannot be a permanent solution. All cars should be all electric from the ground up if we are to move towards a zero carbon society.
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