Electric driveline conversions could be the next big thing in the classic car and truck market. And Chevrolet Performance has a new Ultium eCrate Package that shows the OEMs aren’t going to miss out on the EV retrofit action.
If the name Ultium sounds familiar, it’s because that’s what GM is calling its modular electric vehicle platform that’s designed to be easily tweaked into a variety of configurations, from cars to commercial trucks.
It’s that same basic Ultium system that Chevy Performance is using for its eCrate package pictured here and we’ve already seen its evolution in the eCOPO Camaro, the e10 truck, and most recently, the 1977 K5 Blazer-E.
We’ve known about the eCrate program for a while now, with details coming primarily via finished concept vehicles. So when we spotted this chassis mockup in the special EV performance wing at the 2022 PRI show, we had to swoop-in to get a closer look.
For starters, the whole thing is resting on a 1957 Chevy frame, leaf springs and all. Out back is what looks to be a Ford nine inch (or derivative) rear axle. Behind the eCrate motor is an ordinary 4L60E—so yeah, it’s all pretty much what you’d expect for a hotrod build nowadays.
In other words, this is a practical glimpse at what a Tri-Five Chevy driveline and chassis would look like when electrified.
We spoke with some reps from Chevy Performance about the system, and they told us that a lot of it is built upon existing architecture, using components from the GM electric vehicle parts bin, specifically the Chevy Bolt EV. That’s good news here, as it means there’s been plenty of real-world testing and parts support won’t be an issue.
2023 Ultium eCrate Package Specs
At the heart of this setup is a 400v electric motor good for 200 horsepower, which if you’re keeping track, is more than the base 265 SBC V8 made in 1955. Couple that with 266 lb.-ft. of torque, and it’ll have no problem keeping a heavy coupe scooting around town. And when we asked, the Chevy Performance team said you can bolt the motor to pretty much any standard GM crate transmission, like the 4L60E in their demo.
The kit includes all the essentials, like the throttle pedal, control module(s), wiring harnesses, charging modules, and even a thermal management system to handle heating and A/C duties in the cabin.
The elephant in the room here is the battery pack. It’s…not small.
The 66 kWh lithium-ion battery pack measures a little over four feet wide, about 6 feet long, and a smidge over a foot high at its tallest point. So expect some body modification involved in whichever vehicle the eCrate gets plunked into. The good news is, as battery tech evolves, we expect the batteries to get more compact, opening up the door to an easier EV driveline conversion.
While Chevy Performance says the 2023 Ultium eCrate Package won’t be ready until mid-2023, for now we’ll just close by saying we’re excited that Chevrolet Performance is pushing forward with a legit EV conversion program and are anxious to see where it goes—and what it goes into—next.