Bolt Mobility Corporation, one of whose founding partners is Jamaican Olympic champion Usain Bolt, was launched in 2018, is taking over the operations of Gotcha, an electric rental scooter franchise in Mobile, Alabama. The Miami-based Bolt also plans to expand its operations to Birmingham and to bring sit-down scooters and e-bikes to both locations in 2021. Gotcha has offered scooter rentals in Mobile since the start of 2020.
Visitors to Mobile used the scooters to tour the downtown area, and local residents used them to navigate the city’s entertainment district. However, according to Ignazio Tzoumas, CEO of Bolt, the general downturn in business due to COVID-19 has damaged the micro-mobility industry. Bolt acquired Gotcha’s assets in a foreclosure sale in December of 2020, as the firm was in the financial position to reinvigorate the failing scooter company. Tzoumas noted that users of Gotcha will not notice any changes at first as they will continue to use the same app, although the app will include the tagline “Powered by Bolt.”
Gotcha currently focuses on short-range, stand-up scooters, but Tzoumas said Bolt has the chance to provide a full array of multi-model devices from sit-down cruisers to stand-up scooters, to electric bicycles, depending on what the cities want. He noted that the exact date when the new options will become available depends on how long it will take for the COVID-19 vaccination initiatives to make it safe for the public to return to regular public activity levels.
The city administration of Mobile is in favor of the scooter operations, saying through a spokesperson that no legal barriers exist to prevent Gotcha or Bolt from expanding its services in Mobile. Bolt already has a warehouse in Birmingham, as well, and could begin to operate in that city in the first quarter of 2021. Tzoumas explained that the Bolt company works hard to provide a business model that is sensitive to the concerns of the local environment.
The fleet of vehicles currently offered by Bolt includes the basic stand-up scooter, the Bolt One, and the Bolt Chariot, which is a stand-up model that has racks for shopping bags. According to the company’s website, a Bolt Bike is in production, and the Bolt Moped, which is a sit-down scooter without pedals, is “coming soon.” Other, more stylish sit-down scooters that are influenced by the styles of classic gas-powered models are also in the works.
The Bolt Mobility Corporation is expanding to include 48 additional markets, which include 18 university campuses in the United States. The firm is able to initiate the expansion because of its acquisition of assets from Last Mile Holdings Ltd. In 2020, the firm expanded services to some 300,000 users. It works with independent local operators in each market, providing those partners with the chance to start and manage their own micro-mobility businesses. With the acquisition, Bolt can offer such solutions to over 50 markets in the US.
Usain Bolt said that Bolt Mobility was founded because he and other company leaders feel micro-mobility is a movement that can be transformative in how people travel about in their communities. The expansion shows that anything is possible with micro-mobility when efforts are supported with talented individuals, innovative technology, and “the incredible work ethic of the Bolt team,” he added.