Chevrolet shows 700-hp electric eCOPO Camaro drag racer at SEMA

GM says it's a marker for future electric product development

Chevrolet eCOPO Camaro Concept
Chevrolet eCOPO Camaro Concept / Image Credit: Drew Phillips
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Chevrolet is using this year's SEMA Show to unveil an all- electric version of its COPO Camaro drag racer called the eCOPO Concept. GM says the high-performance, high-voltage electric powertrain will help advance future product development of electric vehicles and suggests new possibilities for Chevy's crate engine and performance parts portfolios.

Based on the gasoline-powered 2019 COPO Camaro, which is also at the show, the eCOPO features GM's first 800-volt battery pack, which is more than twice the voltage of the batteries found in the production Chevrolet Volt and Bolt and is said to enable a more efficient power transfer to the electric motor and faster recharge, all the better for the rapid pace of drag-racing elimination rounds. It comprises four 200-volt modules that each weigh about 175 pounds, mounted strategically — two in the rear seat area, the others in the trunk — for optimal weight distribution. That placement gives the eCOPO about a 56 percent rear-weight bias, helping it launch more efficiently.

Chevy has installed a battery management system to keep tabs on all that juice and heat generated within the pack, tied into a safety system that continuously evaluates electrical components. It also sealed the rear battery packs off from the interior and added an integrated driveshaft tunnel between the modules. It also expanded the roll cage into the trunk area to add protection for the rear modules.

The electric motor is based on a pair of BorgWarner motor assemblies connected to a conventional race-tuned "Turbo 400" automatic transmission that channels the torque to the solid rear axle found in production COPO Camaros. It puts out more than 700 horsepower and 600 pound-feet of torque, good for an estimated 9-second quarter-mile — though Chevy says testing is ongoing.

Chevy says the electric motor has the same bell housing mounting pattern and crankshaft flange as its LS-family crate engines. It simply bolts into the engine compartment in place of the gas engine, since the transmission, driveshaft and other drivetrain components have the same configuration as the gasoline-powered COPO Camaro. It's also compatible to almost any other GM transmission.

GM built the car in partnership with electric drag racing team Hancock and Lane Racing, which is still testing it, and more than a dozen students from the automotive technology program at Bothell High School, in suburban Seattle, run by Patrick McCue of "Shock and Awe" electric drag racing car fame.

"The eCOPO Concept is all about where we go in the future with electrification in the high performance space," Russ O'Blenes, director, performance variants, parts and motorsports at GM, said in a statement. "The original COPO Camaro program was all about pushing the envelope, and this concept is an exploration with the very same spirit."

The eCOPO Camaro joins the 50th-anniversary 2019 production COPO Camaro race car and around two dozen other Chevy concepts and show vehicles at SEMA.

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