At the 2018 SEMA Show, Chevrolet not only unveiled its latest and 50th anniversary COPO Camaro, but also an eCOPO version, the “e” standing for the drag racing machine’s electric powerplant.
At the time, Russ O’Blenes, GM’s director of performance variants, parts and motorsports,” said the project “represents our goal of a world with zero emissions, with the next-generation of engineers and scientists who will help get us there.”
Not only was the electric-powered drag racer something different, but it was constructed in the state of Washington with help from a high school auto-shop class.
“This project exemplifies Chevrolet and General Motors’ commitment to STEM education,” he added.
“The original COPO Camaro program was all about pushing the envelope and this concept is an exploration with the very same spirit.”
Fast forward a year and Chevrolet is back at the 2019 SEMA Show with another electric-powered vehicle. This one doesn’t have 700 horsepower for drag racing, but not only is it a classic vehicle, its powertrain forecasts the company’s eagerness to offer a plug-and-play, connect-and-cruise crate-engine style program to electrify any vehicle.
What O’Blenes and company did this year was to start with a 1962 Chevrolet C-10 pickup truck, remove its engine and replace it with two of the electrical motors used in the Chevrolet Bolt EV.
Why two motors? For one thing, the pair provides around 450 horsepower and, O’Blenes explained, the truck not only will be fast (0-to-60 mph in 5 seconds and a quarter-mile sprint in the high-13 range), but will have 250 miles of range, enough to do the daily distance on the next Hot Rod Power Tour.
O’Blenes said the motors, which are arranged under the truck’s hood to look almost like a V8 setup, are independent, which means two charging units and thus the overall powertrain can be charged more quickly.
He also noted that while the ’62 was equipped with two motors, a three-meter setup could be practical, and there was one on display next to the E-10.
“What’s the glide path to get something more consumer related?” O’Blenes repeated the question the team sought to answer with the E-10.
The batteries for the pair of motors was housed beneath a tonneau cover in the truck bed. The application replaces the typical gasoline engine with the electric motors while retaining the stock transmission, whether manual or automatic, he added.
“My goal for next year is to have things even more sorted out,” he said.
The eventual goal is a connect-and-cruise, plug-and-play package.
Two things that still need development, he added, are people with the technical know-how to handle such installations, and, ideally, a next-generation of batteries that would take up less space.
One other challenge already has been overcome, that of an electric vehicle being too quiet.
The E-10 is equipped with a multi-mode “sound emulator” that uses a trio of speakers to broadcast the driver’s choice of such sound as a small-block V8 on a race track, a V8 in regular street guise, a “futuristic sound,” or even to run in the sound of silence.