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Wanna Convert Your SUV to Electric: GM Unveils eCrate Package for Converting Old Trucks to Electric Cars

Many electric vehicle manufacturers are coming up with a new tactic to get more electric vehicles on the road. Old pickup trucks or SUVs can now undergo a full makeover, and the end result is an electric car. GM had revealed such an electrification concept vehicle of the Chevrolet Camaro in 2019. They made a similar conversion with the Chevrolet E-10 in the same year. Now, they will be unveiling the all-electric 1977 K5 Blazer, which is set to provide a platform for the Electric Connect and Cruise eCrate Package.

GM To Unveil eCrate Package for Converting Old Vehicles to Electric Cars

The K5 Blazer-E is basically a functional concept that demonstrates the abilities of the eCrate Package. The eCrate Package, according to GM, will be available in the latter half of 2021. This is subject to the interest of the SEMA members to pursue their own electrification projects. The SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) provides services for employees of its member companies that include education and professional development, market research, legislative and regulatory advocacy, industry publications, international business development, and business-to-business events.

General Motors’ US Vice President of Performance and Motorsports Jim Campbell was quoted as saying “As GM introduces a new fleet of electric vehicles, it creates an exciting opportunity to bring EV technology to the aftermarket. 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 Electrification Process

The eCrate conversion process was first seen in the E-10 and eCOPO Camaro, but they were just concepts. The next step will be to use that knowledge to build a strategy that allows people to electrify their old SUVs and pickup trucks. The K5 Balzer-E will prove this strategy.

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GM says that the K5 Blazer-E retains most of its stock parts. 90% of the eCrate components come from the current Chevrolet Bolt EV. Of course, the conversion includes taking out the combustion powertrain and replacing it with a motor and a battery. The K5 Blazer will lose its V8 engine, transmission, fuel tank, and exhaust. This gets replaced by the eCrate package, which mainly consists of a 200 hp motor and 60 kWh battery pack. The battery pack contains a 400-volt system, along with DC-AC and DC-DC converters. The battery thermal management consists of wiring harnesses, controllers, and water pumps.

GM got the idea for making a proper eCrate package after the success of the E-10 concept. When customers inquired if their cars could also be electrified, Chevrolet’s director of engineering Russ O’Blenes gave a positive reply. He said that customers who want to get instant torque in their pickup trucks will benefit from this. For customers who want extreme performance, the modular eCrate system allows for limitless applications.

The Chevrolet Camaro Story

Two years ago, the Chevrolet COPO Camaro came in three different variants. The supercharged LSX-based engine gave 580 hp, and they gave two naturally aspirated engines too. These two variants gave outputs of 410 and 470 hp. Then in 2019, Chevrolet came up with the electrified version of this drag racer.

The fully electric variant is capable of giving out 700 hp and 814 Nm of torque. The car has a 32 kWh battery pack, along with an 800-volt system. In its very first appearance on the drag strip, it pulled off an impressive 10.14 seconds in a quarter-mile. This was, however, at just 80% of the total power. After fine-tuning the system, the car completed the quarter-mile in 10.02 seconds. And then it finally gave its best timing yet. Completing the quarter-mile in 9.837 seconds, it crossed the finish line at 134 mph (216 kph).

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This timing set a new record for concept vehicles above 800 volts. However, there are many four-wheel electric dragsters out there which are faster than the Camaro. Even with the backing of General Motors, the Camaro is not the fastest drag racer on the circuit. This proves the tough competition in the market currently.

Our Opinion

The electrification of combustion vehicles is a very specific market in the industry right now. It takes a lot of time, effort, and money to swap out the old powertrain and put in the new, electrified one. However, there are always some auto fanatics who like to experiment with their cars. And stylish combustion vehicles equipped with a silent and efficient powertrain never fail to impress. While companies like Tesla are taking the world towards an electrified future with new technology, others like GM are taking a different route. The goal – increase the number of green vehicles on the planet.

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Mihir Tasgaonkar
A mechanical engineer who loves reading and writing about new technologies in the automobile industry.

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