The 2020 SEMA Show is happening virtually this year for obvious reasons. But automakers are still producing their typical lineup of custom vehicles. One of the coolest and potentially game-changing for the vintage off-roader is the 1977 K5 Blazer-E, a riff on the K5 Blazer, which is fast becoming the wired SUV for swanky East Coast vacation spots.
Chevy’s K5 Blazer-E looks pretty much like the standard 1977 Blazer. But as you no doubt guessed from the “E,” it’s powered by electricity, specifically a Chevrolet eCrate motor from the Chevy Bolt EV.
Hearing the name “Bolt” may not get you too fired up, but its electric motor puts out 200 hp and 266 lb-ft, which is more than the 1977 K5 Blazer got from its stock 175 hp V8. The battery pack is 400-volt with 60 kWh of usable energy. The Blazer gets a new four-speed automatic and upgrades to the power steering and the brakes. Pretty much everything else, including the transfer case, driveshaft, differential and axles, is stock.
GM expects the “Electric Connect and Cruise” package in the K5 Blazer-E to be available in “the second half of 2021.” They are setting up a certification program for dealers and third-parties to be able to install it — no word yet on pricing. GM is also considering higher-performance options, including potential the Ultium batteries powering the new Hummer EV and other upcoming vehicles.
Chevy's setup in the 1977 K5 Blazer-E isn’t perfect. Skeptics will note the batteries obtrusively take up the entire bed of the vehicle. But developments like this are the start of a bright future that may not just preserve the vintage off-roaders we love but improve them and even make them daily drivable.
This development almost makes up for Chevy reviving the Blazer as a definitively road-going (but good at it) crossover. Almost.