After pausing sales, closing stores, and being unable to pay its bills, beloved Dutch ebike maker VanMoof has officially been declared bankrupt.
Just last week, Dutch courts granted the company a two-month ‘suspension of payment’ to protect it from creditors while it worked with administrators to find a solution.
However, yesterday, the court of Amsterdam withdrew the suspension of payment and declared all three of VanMoof’s legal entities in the Netherlands bankrupt. VanMoof’s units outside the country are not affected.
Such a swift bankruptcy decision usually occurs in cases where authorities can see that a company has exhausted all available cash and any options for financing and sale.
In the past day, we tried to secure investment to keep us afloat and honor our commitments with customers and employees, but unfortunately, that was not possible. The proposal to other bike companies for a buy-out did not work either.
We have no choice but to file for…
— VanMoofer News (@VanMooferNews) July 17, 2023
Two administrators have been appointed as trustees and are investigating the possibility of pulling VanMoof out of bankruptcy by selling it to a third party, the company told TNW via email.
The only way VanMoof can stay alive is if it sells off its assets and operations to a third party. This theoretical buyer would not take responsibility for VanMoof’s outstanding debt.
Bankruptcy is the final blow for VanMoof which, despite being one of the most heavily funded ebike startups in the world, has been making major losses on its ebikes for years.
VanMoof bikes feature a sleek, simplistic design and have become commonplace on the streets of Amsterdam, where the company was founded in 2009. It has around 700 employees.
In an internal email sent to staff, founders Taco and Ties Carlier said, “we feel sadness, but most of all we feel an immense sense of pride for what we have achieved together.”
VanMoof riders now enter a period of uncertainty over the future of their ebikes, which require custom parts and specialised software to fully operate.
Matteo, a VanMoof rider since 2018, told TNW he is hoping he doesn’t have any (more) issues with his bike “because clearly I will not be able to get it serviced and I doubt the one year of remaining warranty on my battery is worth anything.”
Matteo, like many VanMoof customers, reports his ebike, an S2 model, has suffered several technical issues since purchase, including a faulty electric motor and battery. These faults took weeks to get resolved. “But when it worked it was a great product and I loved it,” he said.
“When it worked it was a great product and I loved it.
Until recently, customers were solely dependent on VanMoof’s own repair service, resulting in long lead times. “Even something as simple as straightening a wheel could not be done at a normal bike store,” said Matteo.
“When it [VanMoof ebike] will eventually die, I think I will just go and buy a Cowboy,” said Matteo, referring to the Belgian ebike brand, and VanMoof’s closest competitor.
For riders like Matteo, the days spent darting through the city atop a VanMoof are numbered. But until then, here’s some initial guidance on how the company’s bankruptcy will affect customers:
💥The court declared the Dutch legal entities @VanMoof Global Holding B.V., VanMoof B.V., and VanMoof Global Support B.V. bankrupt.
What will happen now?
Repairs, open orders & the App. 👇
🔧If you had your bike in repair, you’ll be able to pick it back up when announced, but…
— VanMoofer News (@VanMooferNews) July 18, 2023
VanMoof also said that no new bikes will be delivered, even if they have already been paid for. The same applies to ordered accessories and parts. Customers who ordered a bike and made a down payment for it should file a claim. Whether any money will be refunded remains to be seen.
According to a tweet, the Dutch police have been inundated by calls from VanMoof customers looking to take action against the company. The police rightly pointed out that the insolvency is a civic matter not a criminal one, and suggested they stop bothering them and let them attend to more urgent matters.
While VanMoof told TNW that it has no further comments at this time, more announcements are expected soon.