The fascinating story of the CvO-H01, this modular French electric car that opened EcoGreen Gas

With a first edition scheduled for May 18 and 19, 2022, EcoGreen Gas follows the Shell Eco-Marathon and the EducEco Challenge organized to set sobriety records. At the Fay-de-Bretagne race track (44), the start signal was preceded by an official lap on a fun electric machine: the CvO-H01. It is presented by its designer Christian van Oost.


If the public can stop the presentation of original prototypes at various international car shows for a few years, the designers, engineers and other people who follow these projects are all too often unknown. Sometimes it is only a few years later that their names emerge, thanks to a change of direction or the development of new concepts carried out within a personal company.

There is this in the story of Christian van Oost, an engineer and designer. ” I was on the Renault Design team between 1987 and 1997, with a stay of just over 2 years at Volvo Gothenburg in Sweden. There I worked on a bus concept introduced in 1995 and the S80 project “It simply came to our notice then.

Renault Racoon concept

At Renault Design, I practiced my art with the Racoon. This 4 × 4 amphibious car was unveiled in 1992 at the Geneva Motor Show. I also collaborated on the development of the Scenic concept car “, keep on.

A film by Richard Berry and Patrick Timsit

After 2 years at Valeo, where he participated in the design of equipment for, among others, the Audi Al2, Renault Vel Satis and Pininfarina Dardo, Christian van Oost was vice president of design for Design Performance within a team of 45 people. ” It was between 1999 and 2002. I was in touch with the builders. For example, for Peugeot, we created the E-Doll and Cameleo concept cars. The latter was a pickup truck based on a 307 pickup truck “He says.

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Our contact also worked on creating logos and visual identities. Undoubtedly, the funniest and most exciting of his adventures is his participation in the film directed by Richard Berry in 1999. In The Delicate Art of Seduction, Patrick Timsit plays the role of a passionate car designer by the cathedrals.

In this story, Patrick Timsit does my job. I advised Richard Berry throughout filming. I spent an entire Saturday afternoon with him. My team and I designed and built the Arca prototype we see in the movie in 3 weeks. The flying buttresses of Notre-Dame de Paris inspired me to get to the lines of the vehicle “, completes our interviewee.

The legacy of Michel Vaillant

When I finished my collaboration with Design Performance, I thought of Michel Vaillant. He wanted to do as he did: build and drive cars. I worked on new concepts through my company CvOracing. Especially for the Gentlemen Drivers of the V2V Endurance Championship remembers Christian van Oost.

Electric car CvO-R01

At the time, the drivers were driving sport-protos. Thus the SR3 of the British manufacturer Radical. It was presented as an Oui-Oui car equipped with a motorcycle engine. Some participants dreamed of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. They wanted a good race car. So I designed the CvO-R01 and CV0-R02 adapted to their piloting. I provided a copy to one of Dessange’s children “, explain.

Because the rules change very quickly in competition, this activity was not viable in the long run for my company. “, he laments

electric roadster

Christian van Oost is still very active today. As of 2007, it was split. On the one hand as head of the program dedicated to new mobility at the Nantes Atlantique School of Design. On the other hand, within its new CvOdesign structure.

Opened in Nantes, my design office is now in Saint-Nazaire. I have 600 m2 of premises in the heart of the city. This allows me to offer a wide variety of services for businesses. It goes from tools for the automotive sector to fire trucks “, specifies.

CvO-H01 Electric Roadster

We arrive at the CvO-H01 electric roadster produced on demand. Each copy is unique. Power depends on usage. A quadricycle homologation is possible to drive on the road. Designed as a competition vehicle, with very reliable parts, some of which come from aviation and the original Renault Formula rack, it is based on a high-performance chassis.

Made of durable aluminum, the frame is perforated to lighten it. That is why the car weighs only 180 kg with its LiFePO4 battery with an energy capacity of 4 kWh. “, Emphasizes our interlocutor.

Great potential

The CvO-H01 has been designed for different uses. This is already the case for driving courses for people with reduced mobility. As part of a structure like Handisport Auto, for example. But also thinking about itinerant operations such as the criterium for young drivers reveals Christian van Oost.

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Adults can also drive the CvO-H01, either by using the pedals to accelerate and brake, or with the joystick-style controller on the dashboard. It needs to be stretched to accelerate and pushed to slow down. Load transfer accompanies movement. It’s easier for people who don’t have a lot of strength, like kids in particular “, explain.

CvO-H01 Electric Roadster

I wanted to be inclusive by allowing as many people as possible to drive this vehicle, without differentiation. So a lot of work in ergonomics. The shape of the body is reminiscent of pre-war racing cars. The side bars represent the great exhaust pipes of the time. However, they are very useful for people with reduced mobility. They are an access threshold for people in wheelchairs “, details.

An on-board computer for different uses

Acceleration, torque, top speed, engine brake: everything can be configured according to user profiles. Thus, with 6-year-olds, the acceleration is very gradual, the engine develops little torque, the engine brake is immediate and the top speed is 10 to 15 km / h. Christian van Oost illustrates.

CvO-H01 Electric Roadster

When the latter is limited to 25 km / h, the range is about 250 km. The CvO-H01 can travel up to 80 km / h. In this case, the radius of action is divided by 3. This evolving vehicle is unique, with its interchangeable front / rear elements, as in the Citroën Ami “, compare.

I am thinking of other body presentations for the next copies. Inspired for example by Ferrari, sports prototypes or with a neo-retro look. I can really offer 100% custom on this basis “, he rejoices.

The spirit of La Chapelle?

Those who are interested in car productions apart from the big manufacturers are mostly familiar with La Chapelle’s creations. The company, for example, has reproduced the Bugatti Type 55 in its original format, but also in 6/10.

Without referring to a specific model, the CvO-H01 plays a bit on the same track. It could receive more or less significant body sizes. It can be used by children and adults alike, for both recreational and educational purposes. That has a price.

Christian van Oost and his electric roadster CvO-H01

About 25,000 euros. The CvO-H01 is built in 2 months from the order. It takes 2 weeks to assemble the chassis. The seats are made of leather, made by a renowned caretaker. It is possible to deliver a less powerful version to reduce the price to 15,000 euros Christian van Oost points out.

We can take care of the financing. For example with an LOA at 500 euros a month. But also in B2B rental for events or training “, concludes our interlocutor.

Automobile Propre and I would like to thank Christian van Oost for his spontaneity, availability and testimony.

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