On the eve of the start of the weeklong aftermarket festival know as the SEMA Show in Las Vegas, Chevrolet’s Jim Campbell celebrated the 50th anniversary of the original COPO Camaro by introducing the eCOPO Camaro Concept – the company’s first drag racing electric vehicle.
The eCOPO was developed in conjunction with the electric drag racing team of Hancock and Lane Racing. The eCOPO is a pure EV with the equivalent of 700-horsepower and 600 lb-ft of torque. Chevrolet estimates the quarter mile in the 9-second range.
“The eCOPO Concept is all about where we go in the future with electrification in the high-performance space,” said Russ O’Blenes, director, Performance Variants, Parts and Motorsports at General Motors. “The original COPO Camaro program was all about pushing the envelope, and this concept is an exploration with the very same spirit.”
Included in the development of the eCOPO was the involvement of Patrick McCue, known for the record-breaking “Shock and Awe” electric drag racing car and his Seattle-area Bothell High School automotive technology program. More than a dozen students participated in the development and assembly of the eCOPO Camaro.
The eCOPO’s power comes from a pair of BorgWarner electric motors that each generate 300 lb-ft of torque. The motors are connected to a race-prepped “Turbo 400” automatic transmission and the car uses the same solid rear axle as the COPO Camaro race cars.
The battery pack in the eCOPO is 800-volts, twice the voltage as the Chevy Volt and Bolt EVs. The battery pack features four 200-volt modules with each weighing 175 pounds. The battery packs are placed in the back seats and trunk, which gives the eCOPO a 56% weight distribution over the rear wheels.
The eCOPO Camaro sounds like an exciting concept, but also listed in the release suggests that Chevrolet Performance may be going all in with EVs by showing a concept electric crate engine at SEMA. The eCOPO’s electric motor uses the same mounting pattern on the bell house and crankshaft as the LS-family of engines. That allows it to bolt-up to just about any General Motors transmission.
“The possibilities are intriguing and suggest a whole new world for racers,” said O’Blenes. “Chevrolet pioneered the concept of the high-performance crate engine right around the time the original COPO Camaro models were created, and the eCOPO project points to a future that could include electric crate motors for racing, or even your street rod. We’re not there yet, but it’s something we’re exploring.”
The electrification of the eCOPO Camaro shows the depth and ingenuity of Chevrolet Performance as it works to harness the flat-out acceleration offered by Electric Vehicles. These new applications could at some point be headed for the Corvette platform and my guess would be sooner rather than later!
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