Editor’s Note: This story has been updated with additional information obtained after the debut event.
After pushing into the luxury extremes with the GMC Hummer EV and the Cadillac Lyriq, General Motors is now taking aim at the automotive mainstream as it accelerates the rollout of its battery-electric vehicle fleet.
And Chevrolet will be the beneficiary, the automaker Monday night revealing its new Blazer EV, with the smaller Equinox EV to follow later this year.
Set to go on sale roughly a year from now, the 2024 Chevrolet Blazer EV will be a particularly critical product for GM, revealing whether it really can win over the heart of the American automotive market with its new “Ultium” battery technology.
Making it easy to go electric
Based on what the automaker has already shown, however, Blazer should have plenty going for it, including range of up to 320 miles, reasonably quick charging, plenty of power and — on top-trim models — and a wealth of upscale features, including a head-up display, an advanced auto-park system and GM’s hands-free Super Cruise technology.
“We’re making it easy to go EV,” Steve Majoros, Chevy’s marketing chief, said during a background briefing TheDetroitBureau.com attended earlier this month.
The Blazer EV will come in four separate trim packages, from the base 1LT up to the high-performance SS model. And, in a first-of-a-kind for any passenger vehicle, GM will offer three distinct powertrain configurations, including front-, rear- and all-wheel drive.
Power to the people
That decision will allow Chevy to offer an affordable version of Blazer with a modestly powered front motor for Snowbelt buyers on a budget. At the other extreme, the two-motor Blazer SS will blast out 557 horsepower and 684 pound-feet of torque, making it one of the most powerful EVs yet in the fast-growing mainstream midsize SUV segment.
And, as with the massive Hummer pickup, a driver will be able to add even more of a punch by activating the WOW, or “Wide Open Watts,” mode capable of giving short bursts of additional power. That will get it to 60 in “under 4 seconds,” according to lead development engineer Bret Dick, though final numbers have yet to be locked down.
The SS will still manage 290 miles per charge, making it one of the longer-range models in the segment. And the rest of the line-up, when equipped with an optional, extended-range battery pack, will boost that to an estimated 320 miles.
The base 1LT with a smaller lithium-ion pack will still deliver 247 miles per charge. By comparison, the Volkswagen ID.4 has just received a range boost taking it up to a max 280 miles. The Ford Mustang Mach-E gets an EPA rating of 224 to 314 miles, depending upon the powertrain configuration.
The 2024 Chevy Blazer EV doesn’t stray far from the design of the gas-powered crossover. It adds a bit more sculpting to the body sides, with a powered, pop-open charge port just behind the driver’s side front wheel.
The overall look is low and wide, with a sporty front end that hews to current EV trends. That includes a lightbar with a backlit version of the Chevy bowtie just below the hood. With the RS and SS models, it puts on a lightshow when you approach the Blazer — or power down at the end of a drive. It also has a more functional purpose, indicating the SUV’s state-of-charge when plugged into a charger.
One surprise was the lack of a front trunk, or “frunk,” under the hood. “It was a design decision, said Scott Bell, vice president of Chevrolet. “We focused our efforts on things we thought were more important.”
The traditional grille has been replaced by a more aerodynamic sealed panel since there’s no engine up front. Instead, Blazer’s motors and lithium-ion batteries are mounted in a skateboard-like “architecture.” The scalable Ultium chassis platform will be shared with the dozens of other BEVs GM plans to introduce by 2030.
Thee Ultium platform offers the advantage of mounting the hefty drivetrain below the load floor, freeing up space in the passenger compartment. There’s no center driveshaft tunnel, for one thing. Another plus is the EV’s center of gravity is lower than the gas-powered Blazer, which should enhance ride and handling.
Inside, the Blazer EV has a more modern and upscale feel than the existing crossover — especially the upper-trim RS and SS versions. The latter gets some appealing tech features, including a head-up display and Super Cruise, the system that lets a motorist drive hands-free on more than 200,000 miles of U.S. limited-access roadways. All trim levels will receive an extra-large 17.7-inch touchscreen infotainment and control system and an additional 11-inch screen for the driver information display.
In another first, the Blazer EV will offer hands-free startup, authorized by the presence of the key fob. When the door closes, the driver simply steps on the brake pedal to bring the Blazer to life. The rear liftgate can be set to open automatically when the key fob is detected near the rear of the vehicle. “Every element and feature have been designed to help customers take full control of their driving experience and enjoy every minute of it,” said Martin Hayes, Blazer EV chief engineer.
GM’s new UltiFi electrical architecture, meanwhile, will allow the automaker to revise or upgrade Blazer’s software — among other things, adding new features in the future — using smartphone-style over-the-air updates.
Charging, pricing and timing
As for charging, Chevy hasn’t released full details yet but did indicate that Blazer can add as much as 78 miles of additional range in 10 minutes using one of the higher-powered DC public fast chargers popping up across the country. Blazer owners will also have access to the Ultium Charge 360 network, which provides access to more than 100,000 publicly available charging points throughout the U.S. and Canada. In reality, more than 80% of buyers are expected to do most of their charging at home using a 240-volt Level 2 system.
As it has been doing with other new BEVs, GM is staging a staggered rollout of the 2024 Chevrolet Blazer EV. It will begin next summer with the sales launch of the mid-range 2LT and RSS models, followed two months later by the top-trim SS package. The base 1LT will arrive in U.S. showrooms no later than the first quarter of 2024, Majoros said. Unlike some EVs that have been rolled out regionally, the Blazer will be offered throughout the United States at sales launch. The ute will be built at GM’s plant in Ramos Arizpe, Mexico.
“Allocations will be made based on a dealer’s prior sales volume,” Bell said.
Chevrolet has also announced plans for fleet service models and a Police Pursuit Vehicle package tailored to the needs of law enforcement agencies. “The possibilities for the Blazer EV’s commercial and law enforcement applications are almost endless,” said Ed Peper, vice president of GM Fleet. “Along with zero-tailpipe-emissions performance, it reduces the number and frequency of certain maintenance requirements typically associated with fleet vehicles.”
The Blazer EV will start at $44,995 for that 1LT base package and $47,595 for the 2LT. The RS is set to start at $51,995, with the SS at $65,995 — all prices factor in delivery fees.
Jeff Zurschmeide contributed to this article.