Sometimes the best combinations happen when the old meets the new.
Chevrolet on Thursday unveiled a 1977 K5 Blazer with an electric crate motor that will be available to customers in the second half of 2021.
Built for the 2020 SEMA show (which is being held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic), the SUV, dubbed Blazer-E, shows off Chevy's Electric Connect and Cruise package. It's a plug-and-play (no pun intended) setup for an electric powertrain, including a motor, 60-kwh battery pack, a DC-to-AC inverter to run the motor, a DC-to-DC converter for low-voltage electronics, wiring harnesses, controllers, and water pumps for battery heating and cooling.
The package makes use of many components from the Chevy Bolt EV, including the motor, battery pack, controllers, wiring harnesses, and heating/cooling hardware. This preserves functions like battery-overcharge protection and regenerative braking, Chevy said. All told, about 90% of the parts installed as part of the electric-conversion package are factory Bolt EV components, according to Chevy.
To build the Blazer-E, Chevy mixed these components with some aftermarket items, including an electric power steering kit, an electric pump to provide vacuum for the stock brakes, and an electronic controller that allows the powertrain to interface with the stock Blazer gauges. The original fuel gauge now displays the battery's state of charge.
1977 Chevrolet K5 Blazer-E
The powertrain swap brought a boost in power. This Blazer left the factory with a 400-cubic-inch V-8 that made 175 horsepower, but the Bolt EV motor provides 200 hp, plus 266 pound-feet of torque. The stock 3-speed automatic transmission was also replaced with a 4-speed automatic from Chevrolet Performance.
Chevy has been teasing an electric crate-motor package for a few years. An earlier version of Electric Connect and Cruise was used for the Chevy E-10 show truck, a 1962 C-10 pickup that debuted at the 2019 SEMA show. In 2018, Chevy unveiled the eCOPO Camaro drag racer.
The automaker expects to begin selling the Electric Connect and Cruise package in 2021, and plans to certify dealerships and aftermarket companies as installers. To get the certification, participants will need training and tools to work with high-voltage electronics.
Electric conversions for older cars are becoming more popular, with Volkswagen commissioning some builds and a smattering of aftermarket companies specializing in electric powertrain swaps.