‘We’ve had to file for bankruptcy,’ reveals VanMoof e-bike CEO in internal email

The final chapter in the VanMoof financial saga has been written this morning. The e-bike maker has officially filed for bankruptcy.

The move was first reported by Thomas Ricker in The Verge, citing an internal email sent by VanMoof cofounders and brothers Taco and Ties Carlier informing company employees of the decision. The full text of the email is seen below.

Only last week, VanMoof had entered into a court-administered “suspension of payment” that was meant to give the company time to find sufficient funds to avoid filing for bankruptcy. The week before it had suspended sales, marking the first major sign that a bankruptcy could be imminent.

Now in an apparent indication that it would not be possible to save the company during the suspension of payment period, its cofounders have filed for bankruptcy in the Netherlands. International VanMoof operations are not currently in insolvency, and their future remains murky.

vanmoof s5

It is still possible that a buyer steps forward to purchase VanMoof’s assets, including its wealth of intellectual property. VanMoof’s highly tech-forward designs helped differentiate the company from cookie-cutter electric bike competition, but also proved to be its Achilles’ heel when those complicated systems resulted in costly servicing as well as supply-chain/production headaches.

The internal email announcing the bankruptcy to employees can be seen below:

Dear all,

Over the last weeks Ties and I have tried to find a future for VanMoof. We’re extremely sorry to have to report that despite our best efforts we did not succeed and we have had to file for bankruptcy. The administrators, who are now the trustees, will explain below what this means for you, but we want to take a very brief moment to thank you all from the bottom of our hearts.

We started VanMoof 14 years ago with a crazy idea to change the world. The only reason that we were able to make a dent is because of you: the hundreds of dedicated and loyal people that have helped us with our mission to change cities for the better. We’re grateful to each and every one of you and we are sorry that we will not be able to see this mission through together.

We feel sadness, but most of all we feel an immense sense of pride for what we have achieved together. For us it’s been the honour of a lifetime and even though the current iteration of VanMoof ends today and we don’t yet know what the future holds, I’m confident that the VanMoof alumni will continue to be a force for good.

With the kindest of regards,

Taco and Ties Carlier 

The future of existing VanMoof e-bikes currently owned by customers is also in question. Those high-tech e-bikes rely on the VanMoof app to be unlocked, though a key code can be generated by the app to unlock the bikes even without the phone being present.

Rival e-bike company Cowboy created a new app that would allow VanMoof owners to regenerate codes for their bikes, and other e-bike companies are now offering trade-ins for VanMoof e-bikes.

Electrek’s Take

This is a sad day for the e-bike industry. Regardless of what you thought of VanMoof’s bikes themselves, it’s never good to see a major player fall. Ripples will be felt throughout the industry.

It may be a wake-up call about the dangers of being locked into an overly technical solution, but it doesn’t mean low-tech e-bike companies are safe from the pitfalls of overproduction or poor cash-flow planning either.

Hopefully VanMoof’s bankruptcy can remain an isolated case, but I do worry that several other e-bike companies currently navigating rocky waters may be one small storm away from disaster.

vanmoof bike

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