PONTIAC, MI – General Motors has been making cars for over a century and therefore knows the passion that four-wheeled toys can spark.
This is especially true for race cars, and Chevrolet caught the attention of electric racing fans at SEMA in 2018 with the eCOPO Camaro concept car, a fully electric drag machine that produced 700 hp and 600 lb-ft. . (813 Nm) of torque.
This year, the GM family has returned to electric racing thanks to a multi-year sponsorship with Chip Ganassi Racing for the Extreme E Series. GM will be driving a 550 horsepower battery electric SUV inspired by the GMC Hummer BEV.
During a panel discussion focused on electric propulsion and racing here at Motor Bella 2021, Jim Campbell, GM’s vice president of powersports and accessories, said the company’s latest racing entry was in the tradition of learning difficult engineering lessons on a track.
“It’s a place for us to learn another step in the EV journey in terms of performance and racing,” said Campbell. But electrical performance isn’t just for race days. GM announced last fall that it would sell an electrified version of its popular “crate motor” to shade tree mechanics who want an electric boost from their old vehicles.
“In 2018, we said we had to be prepared for what would happen on the electric vehicle side,” Campbell said. “While we are in the ICE world with crate motors in motorsport, we are also putting another foot in the camp of electric vehicles. It will be a foothold in both camps and we will learn from both and advance our learning. “
The idea of an electric box powertrain fits well with GM’s history, says Russ O’Blenes, director of the automaker’s racing performance and propulsion team.
“GM really kicked off the checkout business and we had this huge portfolio,” O’Blenes told MotorBella. “We sat down and discussed what the future would look like and the e-crate, and in particular the eCOPO, was the first step in what the bookend will look like on the electric space.”
Of course, some people love auto racing for the sound. Not everyone, of course, but some. O’Blenes says you can’t get this from an electric race car, but that doesn’t mean you won’t come away impressed.
“If you put people in cars, they’re incredibly convincing,” he says. “Maybe they don’t have the noise or the smell, but from a driver’s point of view… you have the ability to get that brutal acceleration at street level, which is really what most people want. It’s just another end of the spectrum.
O’Blenes says GM has always focused on making its fully integrated crate motors that anyone could use to bring an older vehicle up to modern technological standards. Later this year, cars can be upgraded to an official electric powertrain, thanks to GM’s Electric Connect and Cruise package.
GM has teamed up with Hancock and Lane, who O’Blenes calls pioneers in the electric drag racing space, to develop this first set of electric cases, which includes a 60kWh lithium-ion battery, an electric motor 200 hp, a DC- AC inverter, DC to DC converter and the wire harnesses, controllers and water pumps needed to hook it all up.
“That has really been our goal,” says O’Blenes. “Giving the customer the option of having something that has the refinement of a production electric vehicle, but in their older vehicle. “
The motors and inverters for electric cash register motors are pretty standard, O’Blenes explains, which is why GM wanted to focus on the battery (it was designed in-house) and on making sure the system can bolt on. in older vehicles as easily as possible. possible. GM has also kept an eye on the future by opting for a state-of-the-art 800V system.
“We wanted to be able to start moving quickly, because that’s what we do in motorsport,” says O’Blenes.