This classic pickup's Ford e-crate motor heart is the start of something huge

Ford has launched its first electric crate motor, with the Ford F-100 Eluminator concept truck giving a taste of how DIY EV-makers could build their own electric cars or give existing models a zero-emissions makeover. The SEMA 2021 concept features the same electric powertrain as the 2021 Mustang Mach-E GT Performance Edition, with a heady 634 lb-ft of torque on tap.

There's also 480 horsepower to play with, making the Mustang Mach-E GT the most potent of Ford's production Mach-E models so far. Twin electric motors are in play, one for each axle.

Earlier this year, though, Ford whet the appetite of car enthusiasts looking to go electric with word that it was preparing its first EV crate motor. Rather than having to wait for a Mustang Mach-E wreck from which to salvage the drivetrain, buyers would be able to pick up the Ford Performance Parts Eluminator e-crate motor instead. It's the same, 281 horsepower, 317 lb-ft torque electric motor that Ford uses in the production car.

The EV-retrofit market is ripe for the taking

Giving existing cars an electric makeover isn't new. We've seen everything from classic cars to more mainstream runabouts ditch their combustion engines and embrace EV drivetrains instead, and there are multiple startups that promise to do that for you – or at least sell you the necessary parts.

Those parts, however, tend to be a little jury-rigged. Tesla motors and batteries are a popular pick, not least because of their power and prevalence. Price and availability has also made Nissan Leaf drivetrain components a go-to choice among DIY EV-makers. What we've not seen so much of, though, is an attempt by automakers to embrace the crate engine approach that has become more common in gas vehicles.

Bottlenecks in production are one reason for that, of course. Supplies of batteries, in particular, are constrained, and indeed are limiting some automakers' production plans for their EVs, but the ongoing semiconductor crisis has meant electric motors, ECUs, and other components are hardly in surplus either.

Ford's Eluminator e-crate motor is priced for the mainstream

While specialists will happily cook up custom – and expensive – EV conversions, what sets Ford's Eluminator apart is that it's priced relatively affordably. Part No. M-9000-MACH-E is $3,900 for a single motor, with the transverse-oriented unit designed for anything from vintage vehicles through to modern cars and SUVs. However, it's only the first step in that process.

Down the line, Ford Performance said today, there'll be a longer list of components joining the catalog. That'll include battery systems, controllers, and traction inverters, making the whole assembly process a lot more straightforward.

To demonstrate that, Ford Performance cooked up the F-100 Eluminator concept. Built in collaboration with MLe Racecars, it's based on a custom chassis by the Roadster Shop and outfitted with custom Forgeline 19x10-inch billet aluminum three-piece wheels shod in Michelin Latitude Sport 275/45-19 high-performance tires. On the outside, there's a Brand X Customs paint job with Cerakote Copper accents on top of Avalanche Gray.

Inside, meanwhile, there's some fetching avocado-tanned MDM Upholstery leather paired with a billet aluminum dashboard by JJR Fabrication. Admittedly, the sizable portrait touchscreen from the Mustang Mach-E looks a little out of place in what's otherwise a fairly retro vehicle, but overall there's plenty here to like.

Sales of the e-crate motor kick off today, with orders direct from Ford parts warehouse dealers or via Ford Performance's online store. It comes with a high-voltage motor-to-traction invertor harness, low-voltage harness connector, and vent tube assembly, and tips the scales at 205 pounds. It's worth noting that you'll need to supply your own battery, control system, and traction converter, so this still isn't an upgrade for the novice.