Sacrilicious: Chevrolet Builds Bolt-powered K5 Blazer for SEMA

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Chevrolet plans on showcasing a 1977 K5 Blazer converted over to all-electric propulsion for SEMA360, foreshadowing the Electric Connect and Cruise package General Motors hopes on selling in the latter of 2021. But it would first like to take the public’s temperature on the concept by surveying SEMA attendees interested in building their own electric projects before finalizing its “eCrate” offering.

That makes the modified Chevrolet Blazer-E a proof of concept to help customers realize what kind of projects might be possible and get the creative juices flowing — something which never seems to carry over when it comes to naming EVs.

GM has been doing the electric conversion concepts for a while now and noted that the 2018 Chevrolet eCOPO Camaro and 2019 E-10 pickup helped the manufacturer decide how best to tackle its Blazer project. Chevy decided to keep as much of the SUV stock and attempted to make any swapped components hassle-free, adding that 90 percent of the new parts installed for the eCrate package came directly factory components used on the Chevrolet Bolt.

From GM:

To convert the 1977 K5 Blazer, the team first removed from the Blazer the original 175-horsepower 400 cubic-inch V-8, three-speed automatic, fuel system and exhaust. Then, the team installed a Bolt EV electric motor, delivering 200 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque, paired with a Chevrolet Performance electronically controlled four-speed automatic. The rest of the Blazer drivetrain remains untouched, including the transfer case, driveshaft and axles.

Power is supplied by a 400-volt Bolt EV battery pack with 60 kilowatt-hours of usable energy installed in the cargo area. Using production controllers and wiring harnesses preserves many Bolt EV features, including shock protection, battery heating and cooling, battery-overcharge protection and even regenerative braking.

Excuse the editorializing, but this is exactly the kind of thing that had me geeked about EVs in the first place. Most electrically powered vehicles haven’t spoken to me (with a handful of exceptions). But the possibility of installing an e-powertrain into a vintage and otherwise-normal-looking automobile is genuinely intriguing. Imagine chucking a pair of torque-rich electric motors into a 1992 Mitsubishi Mirage and living in a sleeper’s paradise.

It’s easy to see where Chevy’s going with this and it’s nice to see them keeping things simple, even if it probably had a lot to do with the pandemic keeping everyone away from whatever garage they used to piece the Blazer-E (again, awful name) together.

Additional aftermarket components are said to include an electric power steering kit, electric pump providing vacuum to the stock brake system, and an electronic controller to drive inputs to the vintage Blazer gauges (allowing the original fuel meter to display the SUV’s current state of charge). Understated and slick but it’s all in service of Chevrolet Performance hawking the eCrate.

As of now, the plan involves certifying as many service centers and aftermarket companies to install the system and selling them the necessary tools. Afterward, they’ll be eligible to install the initial eCrate offering — which includes a 60-kWh battery pack, 200-hp electric motor, wiring harnesses, cooling pumps, and the obligatory DC-to-AC power inverter and converter.

Assuming it’s a success, Chevy said it would entertain the possibility of a “wider range of aftermarket applications” that included performance-focused applications and larger battery packs.

SEMA has gone virtual this year to keep people from coughing near each other. But GM said customers could follow all the action on the Chevrolet Performance YouTube page, which currently features a glut of electric conversions and LS swaps.

[Images: General Motors]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Flipper35 Flipper35 on Nov 02, 2020

    I hope the battery pack comes in different shapes. A Bugeye would be a hoot with this drivetrain, but with that battery pack shape I am sure it wouldn't fit. Same with a mid-70s Corvette or other old sports car. If they can't make it modular or the shape of an 18 gallon tank, there are many things this won't work in.

    • Brett Woods Brett Woods on Nov 03, 2020

      Battery pack bolt up gas tank replacement? I am liking your idea. Maybe 25 miles range. Might be good for shopping if you’re retired. Take out the widow next door. Johnny your truck is so quiet and creaky. Hail to the king baby.

  • 285exp 285exp on Nov 03, 2020

    Seems like an interesting, if fairly useless, conversion. You have a big old truck with a battery the size of a standard Model 3, tires with much greater rolling resistance than the Tesla’s, greater drivetrain losses because it still has a conventional auto transmission, and the aerodynamics of a barn. What a deal.

  • Wjtinfwb Funny. When EV's were bursting onto the scene; Tesla's, Volt's, Leaf's pure EV was all the rage and Hybrids were derided because they still used a gas engine to make them, ahem; usable. Even Volt's were later derided when it was revealed that the Volt's gas engine was actually connected to the wheels, not just a generator. Now, Hybrids are warmly welcomed into the Electric fraternity by virtue of being "electrified". If a change in definition is what it takes, I'm all for it. Hybrid's make so much sense in most American's usage patterns and if needed you can drive one cross-country essentially non-stop. Glad to see Hybrid's getting the love.
  • 3-On-The-Tree We also had a 1973 IH Scout that we rebuilt the engine in and it had dual glass packs, real loud. I miss those days.
  • 3-On-The-Tree Jeff thanks. Back in 1990 we had a 1964 Dodge D100 with a slant six with a 3 on the tree. I taught myself how to drive a standard in that truck. It was my one of many journeys into Mopar land. Had a 1973 Plymouth duster with a slant six and a 1974 Dodge Dart Custom with 318 V8. Great cars and easy to work on.
  • Akear What is GM good at?You led Mary............................................What a disgrace!
  • Randy in rocklin I have a 87 bot new with 200k miles and 3 head gasket jobs and bot another 87 turbo 5 speed with 70k miles and new head gaskets. They cost around 4k to do these days.