430 Horsepower and SMOG Legal? GMPP E-ROD

August 15th, 2010

Text by Jason Mulligan

Photos Courtesy of GM Performance Parts

The Lowdown on GM Performance Part’s E-ROD LS3 – Finding a Solution to SMOG Problems

For those of us that are looking to accomplish a complete motor swap in our trucks or a brand new build with the goal of more power and reliability, modern LS-based motors are currently the best ticket. They offer great control over power and reliability and are considered to be our generations SBC. The Small Block Chevrolet (SBC) engine has long been a staple of the customizing community. The engine has remained relatively unchanged for decades and thousands of parts are available for the SBC in case you want some added power. If you are looking to get past the 300 or 400 horsepower range however you would have to build up the engine greatly. This usually consists of a new performance parts including a hot camshaft, forged pistons, ported heads, etc.. The list goes on and the dent in the wallet deepens. But no matter how you cut it, once a emissions control referee pops the hood and sees a different motor that has been built up, red flags go off at the inspection and your truck will most likely only see the streets while sitting atop a trailer. A solution is needed that offers the best of both worlds, power and emissions compliance.

Lets breakdown a few of the restrictions that the government, California Air Resources Board (CARB) and Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) has put in place in terms of regulations, smog check procedures and also some of the registration issues that have had many enthusiasts jumping through hoops just to get their creations on the road legally. We are using the state of California as an example as it is the most restrictive and a few other states across the union have followed the examples set in the western state when it comes to regulations. Some states do not require smog checks or have created special registration classes for show vehicles, but not everyone is that lucky. Thankfully SEMA and other organizations are constantly working with local and federal governments to help out enthusiasts as much as possible. In simple terms for California, one does not need to emissions test trucks built prior to 1976 for registration renewals. This is good news for those rebuilding classic trucks where power and looks triumph over emission concerns. Most of these trucks are driven only to shows and on weekends leaving a very small carbon footprint in the scheme of things. However, those trucks built after 1976 must smog check every 2 years with more advanced screening for those built with OBDII in 1996 and newer models. Those with later model trucks such as square body C-10s, C/K pickups and others are fairly restricted to simple bolt on power adders that hopefully have a ARB approval number and will pass emissions.

Furthermore, registration on specially constructed vehicles can be tricky and confusing. Hot rodders have long had a history of swapping bodies and frames and motors from various years, mostly pre-smog. But dozens of companies offer new frame rails, new bodies and components. So the question that comes to mind is what year is the car or truck really when it is built? Companies such as Dynacorn offer steel reproduction classic truck bodies. And with custom frames and restoration parts, 100% brand new trucks can be built with no heritage of old metal on them whatsoever. Drop a GM Performance Parts crate motor under the hood and you have a reliable and powerful modern truck with classic custom styling. But here is the catch. The truck is considered to be a brand new vehicle and must be registered as such and is therefore subject to modern emissions regulations! Transplanting a newer motor in an old truck also means that you have to now SMOG check that truck as well; however most people tend to fly under the radar. Cab swaps and rebuilds necessitating VIN inspections can reveal the emissions compliance issues and shatter the dreams of driving your truck legally.

SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) known widely for their annual trade show also lobbies governments on issues that affect our industry and its enthusiasts. Jim McFarland, Technical Consultant for SEMA and Steve McDonald, Vice President of Government Affairs for SEMA along with Russ Deane and John Brueggeman had been looking for a solution to help with these emission and registration issues. A retrofit kit was configured to try and bring existing vehicles with motor swaps needing to be smog checked in line with current regulations. During this time, California created an amnesty for those with Specially Constructed Vehicles (SCVs) that had been incorrectly registered and needed to meet compliance for registration. This amnesty expires the first day of 2011 and after that; an emissions compliant solution will be needed for those constructing modern vehicles or transplanting engines. For those that do not comply and re-title their vehicles, pay back taxes and complete smog checks, their vehicles can be subject to a felony charge and fines as it constitutes lost revenue of $1,000 or more in taxes and fees. If the sum is less than $1,000 then non-compliance can result in misdemeanor charges. “California has 500 SB-100 exempt titles available at the beginning of each year for specially constructed vehicles. However, several thousands SCVs are being built each year in the state of California. SEMA and GM Performance Parts have stepped in to help provide builders and owners of these vehicles an emission-compliant powertrain platform,” states Dr. Jamie Meyer of GM Performance Parts. “The retrofit kit is great on existing vehicles, but what about new cars and trucks being built?” said Jim McFarland, Technical Consultant for SEMA, “we put the word out there looking for a solution to the industry and GM Performance Parts got on board right away.”

GM Performance Parts, part of General Motors and SEMA have been cutting through the red tape and using it to tape back together the shattered dreams of many enthusiasts to try and provide a solution that offers a crate motor that has the perfect trifecta of power, reliability and emissions compliance! SEMA and GMPP have been working with CARB, and BAR in order to produce the new E-ROD LS3 crate motor as a standalone engine platform that hopefully puts smiles on enthusiasts and environmentalists faces alike. “CARB and BAR was looking for a solution that makes everyone happy to keep builders from skirting emissions laws,” stated Dr. Jamie Meyer. Steve Felix, head of GM Performance Parts Engineering was in charge of developing the emissions equipment and all of the testing. In short, the E-ROD package consists of components to match the emissions compliant equipment in the new 2010 Chevrolet Camaro 6.2L production cars. The wiring harness and controller have been calibrated to work in a variety of applications that the platform would be installed in. The E-ROD has been tested using General Motors emission testing standards. The system is currently being reviewed at length with CARB and BAR (who are in charge of SMOG stations) to ensure that anyone who correctly installed the system would meet California standards in emissions. “We struggled a bit with the concept of the best method to create a stand alone crate motor with its own factory emissions controls without knowing what vehicle it would be installed in. CARB was on board with the concept but the main struggle was meeting some of BAR’s requirements,” states Dr. Jamie Meyer. “But we have had great help from the folks at CARB, BAR and especially SEMA as we believe this is a win win project for everyone involved.” Steve McDonald and Jim McFarland are currently working out the logistics with CARB and BAR that SMOG check referees know what to look for when an E-ROD equipped vehicle comes into their station.

The E-ROD package includes the popular 6.2L LS3 crate motor, the same motor that powers the current production Camaros of the world. The motor is rated at a neck snapping 430 horsepower and 424 ft. lbs. of torque. The motor offers the reliability of a new, modern computer controlled crate engine and all of the power you’ll need. The emissions part of the package consists of a few different parts. It may seem overwhelming at first, but it is pretty standard stuff that we are all familiar with in modern vehicles. A lot of the components can be hidden out of the way keeping the engine bay clean and show worthy. A GM Performance Parts LS3 wiring harness and ECM are included along with O2 sensors that must be installed within 18 inches of the provided exhaust manifolds along the supplied catalytic convertors and piping with bungs already installed. A fuel tank evaporator canister, Mass Air Flow sensor, air filter and electronic throttle pedal are also included to round out the emissions compliance. Options for an automatic or manual transmission are now available and GMPP has a few more tricks and new applications up their sleeves, so you will have to stay tuned for those!

Steve Felix is the GM Performance Parts Engineering Group Manager and was head of the R&D team behind the E-ROD package working with the goal to comply with CARB and BAR emissions standards without compromising the power that the LS3 is known for creating that hot rod and truck enthusiasts crave. To accomplish this, they have had to outfit the LS3 motor with all of the components that referees look for when smog checking vehicles and meet the CARB and BAR requirements for emissions testing. Jim McFarland states, “We knew that the platform would have to meet all of the BAR requirements in testing including OBDII, EVAP, visual inspection and the tailpipe sniffer.” Smog tests were put in place to help reduce the emissions of Hydrocarbon, Carbon Monoxide and Nitrogen Oxide gases into the air. Added equipment such as evaporative canisters and catalytic converters help to lower the emissions of these harmful gases. Catalytic convertors convert harmful Hyrdocarbon and Carbon Monoxide gases into Carbon Dioxide and water molecules before they are released into the air. The E-ROD package is a stand alone engine platform in line with the requirements of a 2010 Camaro. This opens the door to other companies to produce add on products to enhance the LS3 E-ROD motor as long as the accessories become CARB approved!

We have discussed the power and the emissions compliance of the E-ROD package and here is the cherry on top. Their crate motors come with a 24-month/50,000 mile warranty as well! Also available are accessory drives, transmissions and plenty other parts. Visit www.gmperformanceparts.com (http://www NULL.gmperformanceparts NULL.com/) or any GM for more information and order your E-ROD package today (Part# 19244805).

We will keep you up to date on the E-ROD program as new information develops, especially in relation to CARB and BAR’s involvement in the logistics of the implementation of the program. Be on the lookout for the GM Performance Parts E-ROD LS3 to find its way into our Brass Tacks Blazer project!

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