November 30th, 2020 by

There was a time when swapping a new motor into your classic car, truck, van or SUV meant bolting in a new gasoline engine that was either lower-mileage or higher-performance than the gasoline engine you’d had previously. The advent of cleaner, more-efficient electric propulsion systems, however, is changing the way the automotive world sees a “motor,” broadening the options considerably when it’s time to go looking for your classic vehicle’s next propulsion system.

Chevrolet is always on the cutting edge of automotive technology, and that includes providing the latest in aftermarket products for the legions of Chevy fans working to keep their classic Chevys looking and running great. With that in mind, Chevy recently debuted an all-electric 1977 Chevy Blazer concept vehicle to showcase the next-generation of electric “crate motor” systems, designed to easily and safely retrofit older Chevy vehicles with a modern, all-electric powertrain and battery pack. Unveiled at SEMA in Las Vegas, the SUV is meant to prove how easy it is to go from fossil fuel to all-electric with Chevy Performance’s forthcoming Connect and Cruise “eCrate” motor and battery pack kit.

“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.”

Called the “Blazer-E,” the project started with a clean 1977 Chevy Blazer with the original, 175-horsepower small-block V8 internal combustion engine, three-speed automatic transmission, transfer case and all other 4×4 components just as Chevy delivered it back in the Carter Administration. After removing the Blazer’s engine and transmission, engineers swapped in the prototype “Connect and Cruise” engine kit, consisting of a motor from the all-electric Chevy Bolt producing 200 horsepower and 266 lb.-ft of torque, backed by a Chevrolet Performance four-speed automatic. In the rear of the classic SUV, engineers added a slim, 400-volt Chevy Bolt battery pack.

Other than the electric motor and new transmission, a supplied wiring harness, water pumps to cool the battery, and assorted leads to run the gauges, the Chevy “Blazer-E” concept remains bone stock inside and out, including retaining the original transfer case, axles and other driveline components. That means it could still be taken off-road for green good times, while delivering more horsepower and torque than it had when new.

Chevrolet Performance plans to put the first Connect and Cruise gas-to-electric conversion kits on sale next year, allowing the owner of any Chevrolet vehicle with an original Chevy small-block V8 to convert their classic to plug-in electric power. Chevrolet’s plan is to make the kits totally plug-and-play, with no expensive fabrication or previous electric vehicle experience needed to install. Kits will include:

60-kWh 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
Wiring harnesses, controllers and water pumps for battery heating and cooling

Don’t feel like turning wrenches to make your older Chevy all-electric? Between now and the launch of their first Connect and Cruise “eCrate” kits, Chevrolet Performance will certify select Chevrolet dealerships as Connect and Cruise system installers, training Chevy techs to install the kits and provide service to converted vehicles.

After rolling out the initial, 200-horsepower gas-to-electric conversion package, Chevrolet Performance plans to offer other kits down the road, with horsepower and torque options potentially limitless for super high-performance all-electric kits. They also plan to offer new battery packs of different sizes and shapes, to help retrofit a wider range of classic Chevy vehicles.

The future is truly now at Chevrolet, and we can’t wait to see what Chevy fans create by melding the great Chevy designs of yesteryear with Chevrolet’s new Connect and Cruise electric motor and battery pack kits. Ready to drive the vehicles of tomorrow that you can drive today? Then come see us for a test drive of the latest 2021 Chevrolet models, at Landers Chevrolet Cadillac of Joplin, or shop our full selection online right now.

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