Electric bikes have been gaining momentum for a few years, with Deloitte predicting in 2019 that ebikes would continue to surge in popularity. But the COVID-19 crisis accelerated ebike sales exponentially in markets around the world. In the U.S. specifically, ebike sales jumped 190% in June compared to the corresponding period the previous year, according to data from the NPD Group. Reports now suggest the global ebike market could be worth $46 billion by 2026 — up from less than $8 billion in 2018.
Against this backdrop, VanMoof has managed to secure another $40 million in funding just four months after raising $13.5 million, as the Dutch ebike firm looks to keep up with demand created by the global pandemic. The company said its revenue has risen 220% during lockdown and now sits at $100 million, with the U.S. emerging as its third-fastest-growing market.
“We sold more bikes in the first four months of 2020 than the previous two years combined,” a VanMoof spokesperson told VentureBeat.
VanMoof’s latest funding round included Norwest Venture Partners, Felix Capital, and Balderton Capital as investors.
Founded in 2009, Amsterdam-based VanMoof is more than a bike manufacturer or retailer — it controls every aspect of the process from design and production to sales and customer service. This puts the company in a stronger position than many rivals, despite delays fulfilling orders due to the surge in demand.
“This independence means we were able to ramp up production quicker to meet that demand,” the spokesperson added. “We acknowledge there have still been long wait times, but we are working incredibly hard to bring those times down.”
The full extent of COVID-19’s impact on cities is not entirely clear, but local authorities’ efforts to encourage people to return to work safely by investing in infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists will undoubtedly create more opportunities for companies like VanMoof. Ebikes are essentially standard bikes with an integrated electric motor that makes pedaling a little bit easier and are particularly popular with commuters, as the bikes reduce sweat-inducing exertion.
VanMoof offers two main models that cost around €2,000 ($2,300) and can be bought online through the company’s digital store and its brick-and-mortar outlets in San Francisco, New York, Seattle, London, Amsterdam, Tokyo, Paris, and Berlin.
The company also vows to put “bike thieves out of business.” Each bike packs built-in location tracking technology, allowing riders to report their bike stolen through the VanMoof mobile app, which kicks VanMoof’s “bike hunters” into gear. The company’s anti-theft guarantee basically ensures the bike is either found and returned within two weeks or replaced for free.
The VanMoof mobile app also enables users to unlock their bike, change the settings, check battery levels, remember where they docked it, and even track their rides sans GPS.
VanMoof has now raised a total of $73 million and plans to double down on production, shorten delivery times, and continue to expand globally, including launching a series of pop-up stores across the U.S.
Of course, the surge in ebike demand over the past six months could fade as the pandemic dies down. But given that the trajectory was already pointing upwards and even more people have now spent their hard-earned cash on ebikes, this mode of transportation may well be here to stay.
“We will definitely factor all variables into our future production plans, but all the data points to a market that will continue to grow strongly into the coming decade,” VanMoof said. “Ebikes are definitely mainstreaming post-COVID-19. The shock value of coronavirus has pushed people out of their normal routines, and new habits, like cycling, will be kept even after the crisis is over. Urban transportation is already looking and feeling very different in life after lockdown, and commuting options, such as ebikes, are now mainstreamed in little more than six months, when it could have taken another five or 10 years.”