CAKE, the nifty Swedish maker of premium lightweight, electric motorcycles and mopeds, has unexpectedly filed for bankruptcy on February 1st. The lawyer’s office, Fylgia, says attorney Jakob Callmander was appointed as the bankruptcy administrator, and tender documents are being prepared for the sale of the business.
Its Swedish compatriot Polestar, Volvo’s electric sister brand, launched in December 2022 a second edition of the electric CAKE Makka, an electric moped for city riding, via its Polestar Additions webshop in 13 selected European countries. There is no trace of the CAKE bikes on the Polestar website today.
Apart from the Polestar webshops, CAKE e-mopeds were sold in Belgium by MINI dealer LTS Car in Liège and Verviers and Bike 4 Mobility in Asse. The news of the bankruptcy comes as a surprise, as the company announced proudly days before in a press release that it is adding the Czech Republic with the opening of a new showroom in Prague in April 2024.
In the press release, Stefan Ytterborn, Founder and CEO of CAKE, commented on what he called a significant expansion. “Including the Czech Republic in our global distribution growth plan is a momentous step for CAKE. As one of the first European countries to welcome our products, this move underscores our commitment to increasing accessibility to sustainable electric motorcycles worldwide.”
Talking with Harley Davidson and others
The Swedish company was looking for new venture capital and talking with Harley-Davidson, other two-wheeler brands, and some automakers in 2023, Ytterborn told Techcrunch. CAKE hired Deutsche Bank and investment bank Numis to pave the way. “We had lots of interest, but no one stepped forward,” Ytterborn said. “The whole space just collapsed.”
CAKE’s major shareholder, AMF, a Swedish pension company holding 11.3% since the latest venture capital round in 2021, wasn’t prepared to throw a lifeline. Neither did the other significant shareholders, like Swedish venture capital company Creandum (10.4%), the Canadian Lundin family’s investment company (9.3%), or American venture capital company Headline (9.2%). The founder himself still holds 10.4%.
“It is not one but several circumstances that have caused us to end up in this situation. Climate issues are no longer in focus. We are in a recession. It’s about us, but it’s also about the venture capital ecosystem. It is completely dead; there are no takers in the later phase CAKE is in,” Ytterborn told Swedish media.
Shared brand values
CAKE has several models in the line-up today for off-road, city, and commuter use. The ‘Polestar’ CAKE Makka was a moped that weighs 70 kg, has an interior permanent magnet motor of 2,8 kW peak power (1,55 kW nominal) for a top speed of 45 km/hour, and offers a range of 54 km. It was presented at a fixed price of €5,300 and delivered directly by CAKE.
CAKE and Polestar began working together in 2019 when the CEOs of both organizations recognized the shared brand values of their companies. Scandinavian design, electric drives, and a new perspective on marketing, brand, and retail are similarities that made both companies eager to work together.
CAKE makes electric mopeds (from 6,500 euros) and motocross bikes. These are lightweight two-wheelers built with high-quality components, such as a single aluminum frame and an Öhlins suspension system.
The manufacturer assembles a 2.5 kWh battery that can be recharged via a regular 230 Volt power outlet. For instance, the cross bike (Kalk INK) only weighs 82 kg and is comparable to a 250 cc ICE bike in terms of performance. It was on sale for 10,500 euros.