Chevrolet is unveiling a 1977 K5 Blazer (the last generation of the Blazer to deserve that name!) converted to all-electric propulsion at the upcoming virtual SEMA show.
The K5 Blazer-E is a functional proof of concept of the upcoming Electric Connect and Cruise package Chevrolet Performance plans to sell in the second half of 2021.
I referenced this new electric “crate engine” conversion in my article Electric Classic Cars. At the time, General Motors installed the electric motor in a 1963 Chevrolet C-10 pickup. GM has been making modern gas engines ready to install in classic cars…they plan to do the same with electric motors.
Building the K5 Blazer-E
The new K5 Blazer-E retains as much of the stock Blazer as possible and approximately 90 percent of the new parts installed for the eCrate package are factory components from the Chevrolet Bolt EV.
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.
The aftermarket components include an electric power steering kit, an electric pump providing vacuum to the stock brake system, and an electronic controller to drive inputs to the vintage Blazer gauges – such as displaying the battery’s state of charge on the original fuel gauge.
eCrate Installer Certification Program
To prepare for the eCrate launch, Chevrolet Performance is certifying Electric Connect and Cruise installers. Participating Chevrolet dealers and aftermarket companies will receive the training, tools and equipment needed to work with high-voltage systems and charging stations to service customers’ vehicles.
Lingenfelter Performance Engineering in Brighton, Michigan will be the first company to pilot the training and certification program. This experience will help inform the certification process for future installers.
According to Russ O’Blenes (Chevrolet director of engineering, Performance and Racing), “the K5 Blazer-E demonstrates what is possible for customers who want to convert their vintage truck to a daily driver with the instant torque and unique driving experience of an EV. For customers who want more extreme performance, the modular eCrate system will have virtually limitless applications.”
I am really excited about this marriage of a classic K5 BLAZER with the modern electric motor. Time will tell how much the conversion will cost, but the prospect of offering electric motor performance in the last Blazer to deserve that name is pretty damn cool to me!