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, the EcoGreen Gas Shell follows the Eco-Marathon and the EducEco Challenge organized to set sobriety records. At the Fay-de-Bretagne race track (44), the starting signal was preceded by an official lap in a fun electric machine: the CvO-H01. Its designer Christian van Oost presents it to us.


If the public can hold back for some years with the presentation of original prototypes at the various international car shows, the designers, engineers and other leaders who follow these projects are all too often unknown. It is sometimes a few years later that their names appear, thanks to a change of orientation or development of new concepts carried out in a personal company.

It is there in the story of Christian van Oost, both engineer and designer. ” I was in 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 presented in 1995 and the S80 project “Launches our conversation partner.

Renault Racoon Concept

At Renault Design, I practiced my art on the raccoon. This amphibious 4 × 4 car was unveiled in 1992 at the Geneva Motor Show. I have also collaborated in the development of the concept car Scenic “, 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. ” That was between 1999 and 2002. I was in touch with the builders. For example, we have created the concept cars E-Doll and Cameleo for Peugeot. The latter was a pickup based on a 307 station wagon “, he comments.

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Our contact also worked with the creation of logos and visual identities. The most entertaining and exciting part of his adventure is without a doubt his participation in the film directed by Richard Berry in 1999. In The Delicate Art of Seduction, Patrick Timsit plays the role of a car designer with a passion for cathedrals.

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

Michel Vaillant arv

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

Electric single seat CvO-R01

At the time, the pilots were driving with sports protos. Thus SR3 from the British manufacturer Radical. It was presented as an Oui-Oui car equipped with a motorcycle engine. Some participants dreamed of 24 hours of Le Mans. They wanted a nice race car. So I designed CvO-R01 and CV0-R02 adapted for their piloting. I gave a copy to one of the Dessange sons “, he explains.

As the rules change very quickly in the 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. From 2007 it is split. On the one hand as the leader of the program dedicated to new mobility at the design school Nantes Atlantique. On the other hand, within its new CvOdesign structure.

My design office was first opened in Nantes and 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 businesses. It ranges from tools for the automotive industry to fire trucks “, he clarifies.

CvO-H01 Electric Roadster

We come for CvO-H01 electric roadster produced on demand. Each copy is unique. Power depends on consumption. A quadricycle homologation to circulate on the road is possible. Designed as a competitive vehicle with highly reliable components, some of which come from aviation and the original Formula Renault rack and pinion, it relies on a high-performance chassis.

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

A great potential

CvO-H01 is designed for different purposes. This is already the case for driving courses for people with reduced mobility. As part of a structure like Handisport Auto e.g. But also by thinking of itinerant operations as the criterion 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-like controller on the dashboard. You have to pull it to accelerate and push it to brake. The charge transfer accompanies the movement. It is easier for people who do not have much strength, especially children “, he explains.

CvO-H01 Electric Roadster

I wanted to be inclusive by allowing as many people as possible to drive this vehicle without differentiation. That is why a lot of work is done with ergonomics. The body shape is reminiscent of race cars from before the war. The side bars represent the large exhaust pipes of the time. But they are very useful for people with reduced mobility. They form an access threshold for people in wheelchairs “, he elaborates.

A built-in computer for various purposes

Acceleration, torque, maximum speed, engine braking: everything can be configured according to user profiles. In 6-year-old children, the acceleration is thus very gradual, the engine develops a small torque, the engine brake is instantaneous, and the maximum speed is 10 to 15 km / h. », Illustrates Christian van Oost.

CvO-H01 Electric Roadster

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

I am thinking of other body presentations for the following copies. By drawing inspiration, for example, from Ferrari, sports prototypes or with a neo-retro look. I can really offer 100% personal on this basis “, He rejoices.

Spirit of La Chapelle?

Those interested in car productions on the edge of the big manufacturers are mostly familiar with La Chapelle’s creations. The company has, 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 in the same lane. It could receive more or less important body sizes. It can be used by both children and adults, both for fun and for educational purposes. Which has a price.

Christian van Oost and his CvO-H01 electric roadster

About 25,000 euros. 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 reputable saddle maker. It is possible to supply a less powerful version to reduce the price to 15,000 euros », Points out Christian van Oost.

We can provide the financing. For example, with a LOA of 500 euros a month. But also in B2B rental for events or training “, Concludes our conversation partner.

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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