After ‘pausing’ sales of new e-bikes two weeks ago, VanMoof has now filed for protection from creditors. The firm has also closed all of its stores for the time being "for the safety of our colleagues."
In September 2021, VanMoof titled itself “the most funded e-bike company in the world” after securing $182m (£132m) in investment from Gillian Tans, Hillhouse Investment, Norwest Venture Partners, Felix Capital, Balderton Capital and TriplePoint Capital.
However, in January of this year doubts emerged about the company's ability to continue beyond the first quarter unless further investment was secured. Having reportedly been looking for €10-40m, only €4.75m appears to have been raised.
Like many bike manufacturers, VanMoof has suffered supply chain woes, but it has also been hit by quality control issues which have then been compounded by its widespread use of proprietary tech. (In short, if your bike needed a repair, there was a pretty good chance VanMoof itself would have to do the work.)
According to analysis of 2021 sales figures by Dutch financial publication FD, the cost of repairing or replacing VanMoof e-bikes under warranty was around €8m. The publication ultimately concluded that at that time the cost of selling a bike was greater than the purchase price.
VanMoof’s ‘Peace of Mind’ services – long-term maintenance and theft protection packages – may also have contributed to its financial struggles. The latter offers a replacement if the stolen bike can’t be recovered inside two weeks.
VanMoof told Reuters that a court has now appointed two administrators to oversee operations during a 60-day "cooling down" period.
"The administrators are currently assessing the situation in order to find a solution so that VanMoof can continue its activities," said a spokesperson.
Online sales remain paused and the firm’s Amsterdam head office was closed on Wednesday, resulting in a gaggle of unhappy customers milling around outside.
Other stores are also closed. "We ... will separately contact all customers as soon as possible regarding pending deliveries or repairs," said the spokesperson.
The agreement VanMoof has entered into is known as “surseance van betaling”. This literally translates to “suspension of payment,” although the European Monitoring Centre on Change (EMCC) describes it as a ‘moratorium’.
EMCC says: “In essence, the measure entails a delay in payment by the enterprise to their creditors. A criteria for this type of procedure is that the financial difficulties are short term, and that the enterprise will be able to address these difficulties in the short term.”