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VanMoof, Trendy E-Bike Brand, Bought Out of Bankruptcy by Scooter Maker

VanMoof, the Dutch e-bike maker that gained a zealous following but declared bankruptcy last month, has been acquired by Lavoie, an upscale electric scooter company, the firms announced on Thursday.

Riders of the expensive and technologically advanced VanMoof bikes were left in limbo by the company’s bankruptcy, because the machines are built from proprietary parts that only the company made and many of the bikes’ functions are linked to a smartphone app that runs on the company’s servers. Despite the buzz around the brand, VanMoof had run into financial problems that led to a production backlog and monthslong waits for sales and repairs.

But riders will not be completely out of limbo under the new ownership. “What they can’t expect in the first couple of weeks is definitive answers to the problems,” said Nick Fry, the chairman of McLaren Applied, the British motorsports technology company that owns Lavoie.

The price of the acquisition was not disclosed, but Mr. Fry said Lavoie would spend “tens of millions” on the transaction as well as in investments over the coming months to “rectify some of the challenges we face.”

“This is not going to be a walk in the park,” he said. “This is going to be a challenge.”

One of the new owner’s priorities, he added, was improving the availability of parts and repairs, something that had become increasingly difficult for VanMoof owners. Regular bike shops could not — or sometimes would not — fix the bikes.

Mr. Fry said that he wanted other bike mechanics to be able to fix VanMoof bikes and maybe make the bikes available for sale in retailers other than the shops owned by the brand.

Another priority, Mr. Fry said, was to address some of the reliability issues that plagued the bikes.

“It’s broken often,” Johan Alderden, a VanMoof owner from the Dutch town of Aalsmeer, said this summer after news of the bankruptcy spread. But echoing many other owners, Mr. Alderden said that “if it’s working, it’s awesome.”

It is unclear what will happen to people who had bought and paid for VanMoof bikes but had not yet received them by the time the company went bankrupt, Mr. Fry said, adding that it was “not something we could reach an agreement on with the previous owner.”

Lavoie recently started sales of a high-end electric scooter, which costs more than $2,000, based on Formula 1 technologies developed by its parent company.

VanMoof, which was founded in 2009 by two brothers, Ties and Taco Carlier, tripled its sales in the pandemic and had raised more than $180 million in funding. The bikes’ design put the battery inside the frame, helping protect it from rain and thieves, and giving VanMoof bikes their signature streamlined look.

As the e-bike market boomed, the company sold about 200,000 bikes for upward of $2,000 each, and opened stores across Europe, the United States and Japan. In the e-bike world, VanMoof was often likened to Apple or Tesla, given its elegant designs, heavy use of custom materials and premium prices.

“VanMoof and Lavoie fit together perfectly,” Eliott Wertheimer, Lavoie’s chief executive, said in a statement. (Lavoie has also been compared to Apple for its scooters’ sleek, high-tech engineering.) For VanMoof owners around the world, Mr. Wertheimer said that he wanted to “keep those riders on the road.”

Sumber: www.nytimes.com