Electric conversions are all the rage in classic cars and Chevy wants to make the process a little easier with their new eCrate package.
You may have heard that GM is serious about their push to electrifying their fleet, including a vow to make Cadillac a majority electric brand by the year 2030. That’s exciting stuff. What’s also exciting is that this push into EVs won’t be limited to new GM products, classic Chevrolets are also getting a chance to electrify their powertrains.
Over that last few years, Chevy has used the annual SEMA convention (Specialty Equipment Market Association) to showcase electrified versions of their classic cars. In 2018 it was the 700hp eCOPO Camaro and last year it was an all-electric E-10 pickup based on a 1962 Chevy C-10. And though SEMA had to move online this year, Chevy did it again in 2020 with a converted 1977 K5 Blazer sporting a powertrain ported over directly from the Chevy Bolt.
First, let’s dig into the details on the K5 and then we’ll speculate a bit on what other classics might most benefit from a Chevy electric conversion.
The real news isn’t that Chevy did another one-off electric/classic concept. The concept has in fact been proven and that means Chevy will be packaging the electric powertrain seen in this electric K5 Blazer-E as a crate swap with sales to the public slated for the latter half of 2021. So, what will come with the eCrate package?
Like the E-10 concept from 2019, the K5 Blazer-E borrows its electric motor and battery pack from the Chevy Bolt. That’s a 60kWh, 400-volt battery pack and electric motor making 200hp and 266lb.-ft. of toque paired with a four-speed automatic transmission connecting to the original 4WD system. Chevy estimates that the Blazer-E will achieve about 100-150 miles of range, compared to the lighter Bolt’s 259 miles. Training on installation and maintenance of the eCrate will be provided by Chevrolet to dealers and interested aftermarket and auto shops.
The Bolt provides the eCrate package with many of the necessaries for electric conversion like AC to DC and DC to DC converters and controllers and wiring harnesses for the water pump to cool the batteries. But the buyer will still need a few components like electronics for power boosted brakes, electric power steering, and a controller for transmitting power to dash gauges and other components.
A price has yet to be announced for the Chevy electric conversion eCrate package.
We love all four generations of the Bel Air of the 1950s, but our favorite has to be the second gen, and in particular the ’57 two-door hardtop. Other body styles included a four-door sedan, two-door convertible, and two- and four-door station wagons. With the signature tailfins, wide mouth grille, and two-tone paint, the second-generation Bel Air is an icon of the 1950s. While some might call it sacrilege to swap out the optional 4.6L V8 from a Bel Air, we’d love to give this classic a new lease on life with an eCrate swap.
Speaking of an automotive blasphemy, suggesting swapping a third-generation Vette’s ZL1 V8 for a 200hp electric motor isn’t even arguable. But we’d hold our breath and save our pennies for an eCrate in the Corvette like the one that propelled the eCOPO Camaro to a nine-second quarter mile. And few cars look as slick going that fast as a ’69 Stingray. Now just imagine seeing one ripping off the line and all you hear are the tires scrabbling for traction.
Whereas the first two cars we mentioned already have capable powertrains, the Chevy 210 was a more modest car featuring thirsty, underpowered V6s and V8s that are prime for a swap with the Chevy electric conversion eCrate.
Our love of the ’64 Impala runs deep, but that doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate other Impalas. The ’59 Impala features a striking design in back with sideways fins and large teardrop brake lights. The massive rear deck means plenty of trunk space to house at least one (or more) 60kWh battery packs.
The final generation of the El Camino featured underpowered small-block V8s and V6s. In most cases, the 200hp eCrate would mean an upgrade in horsepower.
Another ‘50s classic ripe for an electric conversion, the Chevy Apache step-side. These Chevy Task Force trucks were a bridge between the more well-known Advanced Design and C/K pickups. The copious chrome, muscular shoulder line, and budging rear fenders have the ’59 Apache looking older than it is. Why not lean into the anachronism and drop in an eCrate?
It’s becoming a salient question for collectors and enthusiasts whether to stay with increasingly expensive, and rapidly outmoded, fossil fuel technology or to swap in an electric powertrain. Some vehicles will surely demand to keep their ICEs, especially the older and rarer the car is. But for some common models produced in high numbers, like say the Chevy Camaro, making the swap to a Chevy electric conversion could keep them on the road longer while improving performance at the same time.
Make no mistake, the current Bolt-derived eCrate is just the beginning for electric conversion swaps from GM. Other manufacturers are likely to follow suit as well. That’s because, following Tesla’s lead, manufacturers like GM need to make electrification exciting and enticing for consumers. How better to convert the masses than convert their classic cars into high-torque, high-efficiency monsters?