McLaren Applied, the electric scooter arm of Formula One's engineering and technology firm McLaren Applied, has announced its acquisition of the bankrupt Dutch e-bike company, VanMoof. The deal comes with a commitment to invest significant capital to rejuvenate and grow VanMoof's operations.
“The opportunity is immense as VanMoof is a company with an exceptional product,” stated Nick Fry, Chairman of McLaren Applied, in an interview with Reuters. “However, this will not be an easy task, considering the financial challenges the company was facing.”
The financial terms of the acquisition have not been disclosed, but Fry revealed that the investment required to stabilize VanMoof would amount to “tens of millions” of pounds in the short term. Fry emphasized the substantial potential this acquisition holds, citing VanMoof's exceptional product offerings. However, he acknowledged the challenging financial predicament that VanMoof had found itself in.
The sale of VanMoof has been confirmed by court-appointed trustees overseeing the bankruptcy process. These trustees, Jan Padberg and Robin de Wit, expressed satisfaction with the outcome and shared that more details about the future services for VanMoof riders would be disclosed after September 4.
Fry indicated, “We will be retaining the departmental managers from VanMoof, and we plan to engage and retain or rehire some of the great people who were part of the Dutch e-bike maker.” However, Fry also acknowledged that certain redundancies would be unavoidable as part of the restructuring process.
Under new management, VanMoof will undergo strategic changes, including the abandonment of its in-house retail store model. Fry stated, “VanMoof will shift from its in-house retail approach to partnering with third-party retailers for sales and servicing, allowing us to explore new global markets.” VanMoof's renowned minimalist designs had garnered attention, but it faced challenges related to quality and maintenance costs.
“VanMoof has a dedicated and loyal following,” Fry remarked. “Hence, it's certain that we'll retain the VanMoof brand. How we integrate it with Lavoie is something we're yet to establish.”
VanMoof, prior to its bankruptcy, achieved notable success by selling over 200,000 electric bikes priced at over €2,000 each. The surge in demand during the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in substantial investments, totaling over $180 million, from backers such as private equity firm Hillhouse and Silicon Valley's Norwest Venture Partners.
The acquisition of VanMoof by McLaren Applied positions the latter to capitalize on the opportunity presented by the e-bike market. Additionally, McLaren Applied recently launched the premium Lavoie e-scooter brand, offering foldable scooters with prices starting at £1,890. The company's move into e-bikes is aligned with its expansion strategy, and Fry revealed that McLaren Applied would continue to operate under the VanMoof brand while assessing the possibility of rebranding its scooters under the same name.