When G.M.’s e-crate is released, it will be part of a complete implementation package including batteries and a computer management system. According to Mr. O’Blenes, the company feels this is the best way to ensure modifications are done safely. Ford’s e-crate, released earlier this month, is the motor only; buyers must acquire, design and install the ancillary components.
Bozi Tatarevic, an automotive journalist, said that will not dissuade customers.
“Most of these are done by enthusiasts,” he said, so the e-crate is a “fast pass” for those who want the ease of going to a dealer, buying the motor and putting it into a car.
Ford says it will keep an eye on how the e-crate is being used by monitoring social media and other online forums; user feedback could influence future iterations of the motor and associated products. That’s because even though do-it-yourself modifiers are a small part of an automaker’s customer base, they are likely to be the company’s most technically-savvy customers, said John McDonald a former manager at G.M. who now runs Caeli Communication, a crisis and leadership consultancy firm.
“They deeply understand how you produce the product, why it is engineered the way it is,” he said. “They’re going to be very quick to give you feedback that is specific and actionable and that’s the feedback you want to get.”
The speed at which battery technology and social media are coming together makes crowdsourcing an effective way to find innovators in the field. That is how Mr. McCue, who is also a high school teacher in Bothell, Wash., came to be the person both G.M. and Ford relied on for their showy concept E.V.s.
Mr. McCue’s very first electric conversion came out of his automotive class at Bothell High School. The two-year effort got the attention of Foundry10, a Seattle-based philanthropic research program that studies methods of learning.
With a grant from Foundry10, Mr. McCue’s next class project was an 800-volt electric dragster called Shock and Awe that at 166 miles per hour held the speed record for a car with doors until Ford’s electric Mustang Cobra 1400 beat it in 2020.