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Inside VanMoof

Against all odds: An interview with Taco Carlier

Against all odds: An interview with Taco Carlier

Launching a new product is never easy. But launching a new bike during the COVID-19 pandemic is another kind of challenge. VanMoof co-founder Taco Carlier reflects on last week’s blockbuster online event, and explains why the ongoing crisis gives him hope for the future of mobility.

It's been a week since the livestream launch – how did it go?

What a week! I’ve never had more faith in the VanMoof team’s passion and skill, but I still can’t believe what we’ve achieved. Despite the massive challenges we’ve faced in relation to COVID-19, the VanMoof S3 & X3 launch was the most successful and most-viewed in VanMoof’s history. Right now, I couldn’t be happier.

So how did COVID-19 change the launch plans?

We originally planned to reveal the new electric VanMoof S3 & X3 with two simultaneous ‘real world’ events. A lot of planning went into these, but the development of the current pandemic meant we had to completely rethink our launch plans with only five weeks to go.

We quickly decided to combine both events into an online livestream experience for press and fans of the brand. The deadline was tight, but you wouldn’t know it from the final event. We enhanced the livestream presentation with specially prerecorded video content and interactive 3D models of the bikes. Combined with the live Q&A from Ties and myself, I think our solution turned out far better than our original plans. Over 6000 riders from around the world were watching live – we’ve never been able to share a launch experience with so many people at once!

What was the goal behind this launch?

Primarily, we wanted to introduce these amazing bikes to the world, and showcase all their high-tech features. With a physical product like a bike, it’s very difficult to do this without being able to show people in person – that’s partly why our test rides are so popular. With the livestream launch, we knew we had to prioritize the interactive elements, so that people could experience the bike no matter where they were.

But we also knew we had to add a real-world element, to show how these bikes can fit into our riders’ daily lives. That’s why we also gave 20 lucky riders early access to the VanMoof S3 & X3, and filmed their reactions and feedback. We wanted to show our audience how these bikes feel to ride. Combining the more conceptual content with this documentary-style film is perfect for the S3 & X3 – they’re incredibly high-tech and forward-thinking, but they’re also practical tools that you’ll want to use every day.

With everything going on, is it the right time to launch now?

I think it absolutely is! Wherever we look, we’re seeing people around the world coming together and discovering the power of bikes. Now that most people are avoiding public transport, e-bike adoption is going through the roof. We know that bikes will always be a safe and reliable way of getting around, and the power and technology of the VanMoof S3 & X3 are giving people the confidence to switch to two wheels. This is the first bike on the market that can be a true alternative to cars and public transport. Even though the world is facing an incredible challenge right now, we can use this to help build a brighter future.

A lot of people are surprised by the new price – how did you get it so low?

Along with all the technology and new features, the price is a real USP for the VanMoof S3 & X3. These are by far the most advanced bikes we’ve ever produced, introduced at our lowest e-bike price ever. We’ve now taken full control of our international supply chain, so we’re involved in every stage of the bikes’ production. Combined with the scale generated by the huge success of the Electrified S2 & X2, we’ve been able to pass on the benefits to the next generation of riders. This is the electric bike that’s going to get the world riding, so it’s really important we make it as accessible as possible.

Looking back at the launch, what makes you most proud?

It sounds cliched, but so I’m incredibly proud of the team we’ve built here. The whole company effectively switched to working from home overnight, so we grew from two offices to almost 200! But despite all the setbacks and challenges, we’ve achieved something people told us was impossible. That couldn’t have happened without every single team member coming together to support each other and bring these game-changing bikes into the world.

And we made sure to celebrate the next day, with all colleagues joining our biggest Zoom call ever to share a toast and pop some confetti. Of course, the ride is just beginning. But with this team behind us, we really can go anywhere.

Click here to shop the new electric VanMoof S3 & X3, or discover what it’s really like to ride the future with a high-powered test ride.