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McLaren’s Lavoie to Acquire Bankrupt Dutch E-Bike Maker VanMoof

Lavoie, the electric scooter unit of Formula One engineering and technology firm McLaren Applied, has announced its acquisition of the bankrupt premium Dutch e-bike maker VanMoof.

VanMoof was founded in 2009 by Taco and Ties Carlier, two Dutch brothers who dreamt up the perfect city bike. Photo: Getty Images
VanMoof was founded in 2009 by Taco and Ties Carlier, two Dutch brothers who dreamt up the perfect city bike. Photo: Getty Images

This strategic move from McLaren comes with a commitment to invest “tens of millions” of pounds in the short term to stabilize and expand VanMoof’s business.

The terms of the purchase were not disclosed, but McLaren Applied Chairman Nick Fry emphasized the significant opportunity presented by VanMoof’s exceptional product despite its recent financial troubles.

Fry noted that turning around VanMoof would be no easy task, acknowledging the company’s challenging financial situation.

The court-appointed trustees overseeing VanMoof’s bankruptcy process have expressed their satisfaction with the sale.

They have indicated that further details regarding the continuation of services for VanMoof riders will be announced shortly after September 4.

McLaren Applied, acquired by private equity firm Greybull Capital in 2021, intends to retain departmental managers at VanMoof and even plans to engage or rehire some of its employees.

However, there will also be some redundancies as the new management restructures VanMoof’s operations.

One significant change under McLaren’s ownership is the abandonment of VanMoof’s in-house retail store model.

Instead, the company will rely on third-party retailers to sell and service its bikes, thereby opening up new global markets.

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Quality Problems and Financial Struggles

VanMoof, known for its stylish and minimalist e-bike designs, faced financial difficulties leading to its bankruptcy on July 18.

Despite selling approximately 200,000 electric bikes at prices exceeding 2,000 euros each, high maintenance costs and quality issues contributed to its downfall.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, VanMoof experienced surging demand and secured more than $180 million in investments from backers like private equity firm Hillhouse and Silicon Valley venture capital fund Norwest Venture Partners.

Potential buyers also included Nasdaq-listed

The company had wrestled with quality problems, which affected its sales. However, with new models ready but unable to reach the market before bankruptcy, McLaren Applied plans to sell these models under the VanMoof brand.

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The Future for VanMoof and Lavoie

McLaren Applied, through its recently launched premium Lavoie e-scooter brand, will now diversify its offerings by selling e-bikes under the VanMoof brand. There is also consideration for potentially rebranding its own scooters under the VanMoof name.

Eliott Wertheimer, CEO of Lavoie, affirmed the commitment to VanMoof’s 190,000 global customers, promising to keep them on the road while stabilizing and growing the business and continuing to develop world-class products.

Despite experiencing a surge in orders during the pandemic, VanMoof has also grappled with customer complaints about faulty parts and breakdowns since its launch in 2009. McLaren Applied’s acquisition of the company presents an opportunity to address these issues and revitalize the VanMoof brand in the growing electric mobility market.

In summary, McLaren Applied’s acquisition of VanMoof signifies a strategic expansion into the e-bike industry and a commitment to stabilise and rejuvenate the Dutch brand, which has faced financial challenges and quality issues in recent years. The move reflects McLaren Applied’s vision for a broader presence in the electric mobility market and introduces potential synergies between the Lavoie and VanMoof brands.

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