The Dutch e-bike brand VanMoof declared bankruptcy in July after it suffered from high maintenance costs and struggled to uphold its generous warranty policies.
With initial discussions between Lavoie and VanMoof starting just three weeks ago, the acquisition certainly set solid quickly with it due to come to a final close on September 4th. The decision comes shortly after Lavoie launched its first e-scooter in June.
Nick Fry, Chairman of Formula One engineering and technology firm McLaren Applied, told Zag Daily of how the current urban landscape called for the invention of Lavoie in 2021 and the steps it’s taken since.
“Micromobility is clearly huge,” Nick said in conversation with Zag Daily. “There are things that many people can’t do with the ULEZ zone in London, for example, because their vehicles don’t meet the emission standards. We saw a huge opportunity there and so we invented Lavoie.”
With plans to invest tens of millions of pounds into VanMoof, Lavoie aims to address the challenges that led to the brand’s bankruptcy. As a priority, Nick told Zag Daily that Lavoie will repair those bikes currently off the road and ensure that repair kits and instructions are sent to bike shops and the retail network.
VanMoof also had new models which it was unable to launch before its bankruptcy, and Lavoie plans to get these out onto the market when they are ready.
“The reality is the bike is fantastic,” Nick said. “But it’s an expensive bike to make, so VanMoof was not making much money as the costs were high, even though the price of the product was also relatively high.”
Nevertheless, Lavoie has definite plans to keep the VanMoof brand.
“Despite the flaws, people love it,” Nick told Zag Daily. “There are about 200,000 customers out there and even those with issues say that when the product works it’s brilliant. Our job is to try and make it work all of the time, not just some of the time. I’m confident that the Lavoie engineers and our engineers can fix the problems.”
Slowing the pace down
One aspect of VanMoof’s operations that’s perceived to be a problem by McLaren Applied’s Chairman was the company’s commitment to fast growth. With a very large workforce, VanMoof continued to scale up its operations during its time with a sizeable marketing and software departments In conversation with Zag Daily, Nick Fry speculated that its scale was one of the issues that led to the brand’s downfall.
With plans to downsize, Lavoie will be running VanMoof on fewer people and Nick told Zag Daily of its plans to translate parts of Formula One’s culture into the brand when it comes to the operation of the workforce.
“As companies develop, a different skillset is required. What’s special about Formula One is it’s very complex technically and it’s made of large numbers of people. You need to get those people to work together brilliantly, and you want maximum diversity and different views and people who are prepared to express those views. The thing that we will be instilling in VanMoof is a much smaller number of people but people who are not only very good but feel empowered to make decisions. That culture is key to this.”
More plans are set to be announced after the closing of the acquisition. “We will work diligently over the next few weeks to come up with some solutions. It will be one of those situations where not everyone is happy. We’re going to spend more than we want to pay. There are customers who have paid good money to buy the product but haven’t received it yet. There are lots of challenges which shouldn’t be underestimated,” Nick told Zag Daily.