Nfter a meteoric rise and subsequent financial difficulties, the Dutch e-bike manufacturer Vanmoof is insolvent. A court in Amsterdam withdrew the moratorium granted last week and declared the company bankrupt in its home country, as announced on Tuesday.
What that means elsewhere, including in Germany, initially remained unclear. Foreign companies are not insolvent, the aim is to continue business abroad as usual. The court-appointed administrator duo are now exploring ways to restructure the company and sell parts to continue operations.
The electric bikes with the minimalist design have long been popular among urban cyclists. In 2009, the founders Taco and Ties Carlier started with conventional vehicles, with sales stagnating at around 2.5 million euros for years. The two have been producing e-bikes suitable for series production since 2016 – and the proceeds have doubled every year.
Boost from the corona pandemic
The corona pandemic gave the company, like many of its competitors, a boost. In the year 2024, Taco Carlier stated in the FAZ interview, the company will make a billion euros in sales. It’s not just about selling bikes, Ties Carlier wrote in a blog post, but about becoming part of a “worldwide movement striving for smarter and more sustainable mobility.”
In everyday life, however, quite mundane difficulties arose: bikes were not only delivered with long delays, but also proved to be in need of repairs. There was a lot of criticism of customer service. The company sold most of its products directly online, supported by its own branded stores. The high repair rate caused high costs because customers made use of the promise of the guarantee. The core problem is the high proportion of own individual parts, which makes repairs outside of the company’s own workshops or partner workshops more difficult.
Financial difficulties became more and more concrete. According to the annual report, a loss of 78 million euros was incurred in 2021, and an amount of a similar magnitude was expected for 2022. Financiers who had provided capital through crowdfunding were recently no longer paid any interest, as the business newspaper “Het Financieele Dagblad” reported last week. Vanmoof closed stores, angry customers gathered in front of branches, but could not pick up the vehicles they ordered or brought in for repairs.
Last Wednesday, the company announced that it had received a moratorium on payments. It has now been revised. Vanmoof Global Holding, Vanmoof BV and Vanmoof Global Support, non-foreign companies, have been declared bankrupt. Vanmoof is investigating the impact of the company’s bankruptcy on entities in other countries, the company said.
Vanmoof cyclists are now primarily confronted with the problem of the company-specific individual parts – as well as that of the digital features, namely the app with which the bikes can be locked and unlocked. “Vanmoof intends to keep the app and servers online,” the company said in a statement to customers. On the other hand, “unforeseen circumstances” could arise.
Wheels and accessories are no longer sold. That could change in the course of a possible company sale, the website said. Even paid orders are no longer processed. According to their own statements, the Amsterdam police have already received many reports of theft via the Internet. The chance of success: zero. Bankruptcy is a civil matter. “As annoying as that is, the police can’t do anything for customers.”