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Upway will offer VanMoof owners service option beginning in September

Published August 15, 2023

NEW YORK (BRAIN) — E-bike reseller Upway will offer a repair program exclusively for VanMoof owners here beginning the week of Sept. 4.

VanMoof, declared bankrupt by the court of Amsterdam in July, was a brand that Upway carried and has extensive knowledge of its proprietary operating system, said Toussaint Wattinne, Upway co-founder and CEO.

Giving VanMoof owners a service option is part of Upway's mission statement of giving unwanted e-bikes a second life and offering them to consumers at a discount. The decision also was made because of concerns over the electronic and mechanical issues that Upway began seeing a few months after it started reselling VanMoof models, Wattinne said,

"We quickly realized the reliability was way off compared to the rest of our offerings," said Wattinne, whose company offers refurbished Specialized, Gazelle, and Aventon models in the U.S. "We typically receive very low single-digit numbers that have a defect within our warranty, and we need to provide a solution for. We reached a point where close to 50% of the (VanMoof) bikes we had sold despite our refurbishment process had some sort of issue that led and required intervention after the sale."

Malfunctioning rear wheel locks, alarm systems and batteries, and wheel and transmission problems were among the issues, said Wattinne, who added he wasn't surprised about the bankruptcy.

"With the levels of unreliability we saw, we expected that VanMoof experienced something similar, and we understood that this would probably lead to financial challenges that they couldn't build a more reliable product in the long run. Having said that, it was clear that regardless of VanMoof's responsibility and what they could have done better to improve, you have a couple hundred thousand VanMoof owners who today have a functioning bike but could wind up with an unusable bike that has no value anymore. Not only is the technology very custom, it has custom core components that are proprietary. A lot of local stores wouldn't or couldn't repair very basic or advanced issues."

At first, VanMoof will have 500 repair slots for a flat labor cost of $99 plus parts and includes bike transportation to Upway's Brooklyn warehouse and delivery back to the owner within four weeks.

"The minute we see we have confidence to extend the number of repair slots, we will extend the program," Wattinne said. "But we want to start by learning as much as we can from those 500 repair slots. We are starting with New York City customers because we know there are a lot of VanMoof owners in that area, and the other place where you see a lot of VanMoof owners is in California, which this program could grow to include."

Before the bankruptcy, Wattinne said Upway mechanics were able to get training from VanMoof and also access to some of its proprietary components. If a VanMoof bike cannot be repaired, Upway will return the bike without charge and will consider buying the bike to acquire the working components.

"We are still engaging with VanMoof to try and get parts from them, but of course, the bankruptcy process is very tight and the responsibility of the administrator is to maximize value for the owners. As a result, they're taking time to make decisions, so it's a bit slower. We will continue to explore that avenue."

Upway has emailed customers in its database and shared information on social media about the program., an e-mobility rental and sales company, submitted a bid to acquire VanMoof, which told BRAIN it would not comment on Upway's service plan. Wattinne said any potential bid would not affect the service program.

"Hopefully, they're going in the right direction, but it also might not lead to a good outcome. Any process will take a long time. During this uncertain time, there are VanMoof owners who need help. In any case, we need to provide a solution to these owners in the meantime."

Upway also has a footprint in France, Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands and sells online from under $1,500 to over $3,000. It was started by former Uber executives Wattinne and Stephane Ficaja. It buys bikes from individuals, retailers (overstock), rental companies, and distributors. It also has a trade-in tool on its website.

Topics associated with this article: Electric bike

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