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

With the first edition scheduled for the 18th and 19th of May 2022, EcoGreen Gas follows the Shell Eco-Marathon and the EducEco challenge organized to break sobriety records. At the Fay-de-Bretagne racing circuit (44), the starting signal was preceded by an official lap on a fun electric machine: the CvO-H01. Your designer Christian van Oost introduces us.


While the public can postpone the presentation of original prototypes at the various international car shows for a few years, the designers, engineers and other managers who accompany these projects often remain unknown. Sometimes, a few years later, their names appear, thanks to a change in orientation or the development of new concepts carried out within a personal company.

There is this in the story of Christian van Oost, engineer and designer. ” I was in the Renault Design team between 1987 and 1997, with a stint of just over 2 years at Volvo Göteborg in Sweden. There I worked on a bus concept presented in 1995 and on the S80 “Launch our interlocutor.

Renault Racoon Concept

At Renault Design I exercised my art in Racoon. This amphibious 4×4 car was presented in 1992 at the Geneva Motor Show. I also collaborated on the development of the Scenic concept car “, he continues.

A film by Richard Berry and Patrick Timsit

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

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Our contact also worked on creating logos and visual identities. Undoubtedly, the most fun and 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 a car designer in love with cathedrals.

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

Michel Vaillant’s legacy

When I ended my collaboration with Design Performance, I thought of Michel Vaillant. I wanted to do like him: build and drive cars. I worked on new concepts through my company CvOracing. Especially for the Gentlemen Drivers of the V2V Endurance Championship recalls Christian van Oost.

Electric single seater CvO-R01

At the time, pilots drove with sports prototypes. So the SR3 from 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 tailored to your riding. I provided a copy to one of the Dessange children “, he explains.

As the rules change very quickly in the competition, this activity was not viable in the long term for my company “, regrets

electric roadster

Christian van Oost is still very active today. As of 2007, he broke up. On the one hand, as head of the program dedicated to new mobility at the Nantes Atlantique design school. On the other hand, within its new CvOdesign framework.

First 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 range of services to companies. It ranges from automotive tools to fire trucks “, specific.

Electric Roadster CvO-H01

We arrive at the on-demand CvO-H01 electric roadster. Each copy is unique. Power depends on usage. An ATV homologation for road use is possible. Designed as a racing vehicle, with very reliable components, some of which come from aviation and the original Formula Renault rack and pinion, it has a high-performance chassis.

Made of strong aluminum, the frame is perforated to light it up. That’s why the car weighs just 180 kg with its LiFePO4 battery with a power capacity of 4 kWh. “, highlights our interlocutor.

a great potential

CvO-H01 is 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 as the criterion for young drivers reveals Christian van Oost.

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Adults can also drive the CvO-H01, using the pedals to accelerate and brake, or with the joystick-style controller on the dash. You have to pull it to accelerate and push it to brake. The load transfer accompanies the movement. It’s easier for people who don’t have a lot of strength, like children in particular. “, he explains.

Electric Roadster CvO-H01

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

An on-board computer for different uses

Acceleration, torque, maximum speed, engine braking: everything can be configured according to the user’s profile. Thus, with children aged 6 years, acceleration is very gradual, the engine develops little torque, engine braking is immediate and the maximum speed is 10 to 15 km/h. », illustrates Christian van Oost.

Electric Roadster CvO-H01

When the latter is limited to 25 km/h, the range is around 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 “, compares.

I’m thinking of other body presentations for the following copies. Taking inspiration, for example, from Ferrari, sports prototypes or with a neo-retro look. I can really offer 100% custom on this basis “, he rejoices.

Spirit of La Chapelle?

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

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

Christian van Oost and his CvO-H01 electric roadster

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

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

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

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