VanMoof’s epic fall from grace and eventual bankruptcy was one of the most talked about electric bike stories of the year. But as it turns out, we’re far from the final chapter. New management has a plan to resurrect the company and do right by its enormous customer base.
The news comes from a sitdown between Thomas Ricker of The Verge and VanMoof’s new leadership, Elliot Wertheimer and Nick Fry.
New management quickly got to work resurrecting the once-leading Dutch e-bike company. In one of the first moves, they more than tripled the workforce by hiring back around 100 of the once 700 employees that VanMoof relied upon before its collapse.
The plan for the new VanMoof seems to involve a three-pronged approach: rolling out increased availability of replacement parts to retailers with repair shops, getting e-bike sales back in action, and perhaps most surprisingly, rolling out a new VanMoof-branded electric scooter in the first half of next year.
Parts availability is critical, as the company already has over 200,000 e-bikes on the road. A lack of key replacement parts was a major factor in the company’s financial downfall. VanMoof’s e-bikes have been praised for their tech-forward designs, but the long list of proprietary components also caused headaches when those parts were suddenly short to come by.
But a true return to profitability for the company can only come from a resumption of e-bike sales. In fact, at the time of its bankruptcy, VanMoof had been in the process of rolling out new electric bike models. The upcoming models were unveiled in Q2 this year and were designed to solve some of VanMoof’s proprietary parts issues with simpler designs. And now the company hopes to get those new bikes back on the shelves and out to customers.
Lastly, VanMoof’s management says that a new VanMoof electric scooter will be coming sometime in the first half of 2024. While that would sound more like a moonshot for most electric bike companies (and is what ultimately killed of leading electric skateboard company Boosted Boards when it tried to expand into scooters), VanMoof has one key advantage that other e-bike companies lack: it was bought by an electric scooter company.
It’s unclear how much of Lavoie’s existing e-scooter technology and designs could work their way into a VanMoof scooter and whether it would be a simple rebranding or a ground-up VanMoof-designed model. But it demonstrates the new management’s goals of not just getting the company back to where it was and instead actually growing its reach with new complementary markets.
If you ask me, this is great news. The VanMoof story was a sad one that ended too soon, starting out with such promise and hope before its over-ambitious leadership overran the company’s ability to keep up. I think that if VanMoof had survived long enough to get their new e-bike models on the road, they could have stood a chance. So perhaps this is the second chance those bikes need.
This is also good news for VanMoof riders, of course. That’s a hard bike to maintain yourself due to all of the technology baked into the design, so those who didn’t immediately get rid of their bikes during the height of the bankruptcy period are now in luck. Though I wonder if the new management will continue to embrace many of the calls within the industry to move towards a less VanMoof-ian and more sustainable approach to building e-bikes.
I’ll be fascinated to watch how the new scooter story plays out, too. Perhaps this new VanMoof will have something interesting to offer us. What do you think? Let’s hear your thoughts in the comment section below!
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