Chevrolet Camaro eCOPO unveiled as a 800-volt, 9-sec EV dragster
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Apologies General Motors purists, there's no easy way to break this news. Chevrolet have built a full-electric Camaro dragster, and it's annoyingly fast.
Fifty years after the original 'COPO Camaro' (Central Office Production Order) special order performance models were introduced in the U.S - essentially a factory-built drag car - Chevrolet has unveiled the eCOPO Camaro Concept, demonstrating the brand's 'electrified vision for drag racing in the future'.
Developed by General Motors and electric drag racing team Hancock and Lane Racing, the concept race car — based on a new V8-powered COPO Camaro, we'll come back to this soon — is a pure EV, driven by an electric motor producing the equivalent of more than 520kW of power (700hp) and 810Nm of torque.
Chevrolet estimates their EV dragster will complete a quarter-mile time 'in the 9-second range', though testing and fine tuning is still ongoing.
“The eCOPO Concept is all about where we go in the future with electrification in the high performance space,” said General Motors Performance executive, Russ O’Blenes.
“The original COPO Camaro program was all about pushing the envelope, and this concept is an exploration with the very same spirit.”
“It also represents our goal of a world with zero emissions, with the next generation of engineers and scientists who will help us get there.”
The eCOPO breaks new ground for GM with its electric motor fed by the company's first 800-volt battery back.
A pair of electric motors generating 405Nm of torque are connected to a conventional racing-prepared automatic transmission that channels the motor’s torque to the same solid rear axle used in the production COPO Camaro race cars.
GM say the all-new 800-volt battery pack enables a more efficient power transfer to the electric motor and supports faster recharging, which is important for the limited time between elimination rounds in drag racing.
The battery pack is composed of four 200-volt modules, each weighing approximately 80kg. Two are located in the rear seat area and the other two are in the trunk: one in the spare tire well and the other in the area over the rear axle.
The batteries position gives the eCOPO Camaro an approximate 56 per cent rear-weight bias, which helps launch the car more efficiently.
“Eight hundred volts is more than twice the voltage of the battery packs in the production Chevrolet Volt and Bolt EV, so the eCOPO pushes into new technological territory,” says O’Blenes.
“As GM advances its electrification leadership, a big step might just come from the drag strip.”
GM are so please with the new electric motor and battery setup that they have suggested a potential 'crate engine and performance parts option could be added to its portfolio'.
The eCOPO Camaro’s electric motor has the same bell house mounting pattern and crankshaft flange as the popular LS-family engines which would allow it to bolt up to just about any GM-built transmission. In fact, the transmission, driveshaft and other drivetrain components remain in the same locations as in a V8-powered COPO Camaro race car, meaning the electric motor simply bolts into the engine compartment in place of the gas engine.
“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.”
In the meantime, Chevrolet will continue to develop the eCOPO Camaro.
Breathe. There's a V8-powered 2019 COPO Camaro dragster, too
As mentioned earlier, GM didn't just show off an EV, there's a V8 version as well.
Featuring Anniversary Blue Metallic paint that pays homage to the original Laguna Blue offered in 1969, the show car previews the COPO Camaro 50th Anniversary Special Edition package that will be offered for 2019.
A 50th Anniversary Engine Appearance Package will also be offered which emulates the look of vintage Chevy performance engines, with an orange engine block, chrome valve covers and a black high-rise intake manifold.
The 2019 COPO Camaro can be ordered with three different engines, the most powerful being a revised version of the supercharged, LSX-based 350 engine. As per NHRA regulations in the states, the supercharged 350 produces 580hp (432kW).
Only 69 2019 COPO Camaro race cars will be built — the same number of 1969 COPO Camaro models built.
“Chevrolet is proud to celebrate 50 years of the COPO Camaro legacy,” said GM U.S. vice president of Performance Vehicles and Motorsports, Jim Campbell.
“It’s one of the most enduring legacies in drag racing, with a powerful past and fast future.”