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Back to the office on the 'Tesla of E-bikes'

Back to the office on the 'Tesla of E-bikes'
by
Maarten Stoffels
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Now that COVID-pandemic measures are being scaled down, commuting is also picking up in most countries. Many employers are currently asking themselves how their employees can best get to the office again. It seems that more and more companies are making the use of bicycles an important part of their mobility offerings. We asked Tom Kips, Head of B2B at bicycle manufacturer VanMoof, how their business model supports companies in promoting this desired behavioural change.

The power of a unique ecosystem

How can we make the best city bicycle? Founders Taco and Ties Carlier started VanMoof to answer that question. Over twelve years later, the company will soon open its fourth shop in America; it is also active in Germany, the UK and Japan as well as its home in the Netherlands. With a continuous focus on further developing its product, VanMoof has doubled its growth over the past three years, making it 'the Tesla of e-bikes' in many people’s eyes.

Tom Kips explains how the production process combined with an optimised user experience forms the basis for success. "What makes us unique in the bicycle market is our ecosystem, i.e. how the bicycle is made. 90% of its parts have been developed in-house. If you look at our competitors, they all work with OEM (original equipment manufacturer) parts, so their bikes contain parts from many different brands. The whole VanMoof ecosystem, from how the bike is made to the app, the website and the software used, is what makes us unique compared to other bike brands."

VanMoof as a game changer in commuting

One of the biggest advantages of the e-bike is that the built-in motor with pedal support makes it easier to cover longer distances, even if the user is not particularly sporty. According to Tom Kips, this increases the possibility of companies’ offering a different interpretation to their employees’ commutes. "Every company is thinking about how to have fewer cars coming to the office. The target audience for commuting by bicycle becomes larger if e-bikes enter the equation. On average, 55% of employees live within 0 and 10 kilometres of their place of work, but most of those trips are still made by car, even though they would be very easy to do on an e-bike."


The target audience for commuting by bicycle becomes larger if e-bikes enter the equation.

With their B2B programme, VanMoof is encouraging employers to shift more of their mobility budget to bicycle use. Tax benefits for offering the bicycle differ in each country where VanMoof is active. In America, for example, there is little government support in this area; the initiative must come from the employers themselves. "Employers provide incentives to employees to choose the bicycle as a means of transport," explains Tom Kips. "Our bicycle plan is designed in such a way that employees can use the bicycle on a subscription basis. By paying a monthly fee, a company can put its employee on a bike, all costs included."    


Benefit from a cheaper advantage 24/7

Earlier published research by Toogethr shows that the role of the office is changing structurally. Making working hours more flexible and rethinking office layouts are also reasons for employers to reconsider themes such as mobility and sustainability. Tom Kips is curious to see whether this development will continue. "I have not yet received a very clear signal that things are actually moving in that direction. But if you bring this back to the bicycle, it is very nice if you can also use it for your leisure time to run an errand or to go to the pub. I think for relatively many companies, it will prove to be less expensive to offer than a car that you might only be able to use for three days when you go back to the office."


A cultural change is necessary

What he does see happening more and more is that companies are reforming their mobility budgets, whereby the bicycle is given a much more prominent place. According to him, this is the result of an increased focus on two areas that he sees regularly. "The main pillars in thinking about changing mobility to the office are environmental, consciously working on reducing your carbon footprint. Besides that, a healthy workforce is also receiving attention. More cycling results in healthier employees and fewer sick days."

He sees large US companies catching up on these pillars. "For example, we are rolling out a bicycle plan in the US for Amazon. In addition, we recently started working for Amazon in Luxembourg, where their European HQ is located. This is a very cool project that arose from the decision that they wanted to make a global sustainability move with a clear health factor. You see that it then immediately goes global, where they introduce bicycles everywhere with a good plan and a good party like VanMoof."   

More cycling results in healthier employees and fewer sick days.

Yet he still sees resistance, because in some countries the attachment to the car is so firmly established that it will be difficult to budge. But as far as he is concerned, the change has begun, and the only question now is when we will make the switch. "When you go from the car to the bike, for some it still feels like giving something up rather than experiencing it as a benefit. So, it will be interesting to see how long it takes before we all make that switch and realise that by cycling more, we are making every city a little more beautiful."  

Do you want to know more about how you can use the mobility solutions of Toogethr to stimulate the use of the bicycle within your organisation? Visit the page and download the brochure for more information.