MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — A Miami-based company is taking over an electric rental scooter franchise in one Alabama city and is looking to expand to another.

Bolt Mobility Corp., launched in 2018, is picking up the established operations of Gotcha, which has been offering scooter rentals in Mobile since the beginning of 2020 and plans to operate in Birmingham as well, possibly bringing options such as sit-down scooters and e-bikes to both cities this year.

In Mobile, it was a common sight to see visitors using the scooters to tour downtown, or locals using them to get through the city's entertainment district. But Ignazio Tzoumas, the CEO of Bolt, said the general slowdown associated with the COVID-19 pandemic “did a lot of damage” to the micromobility industry.

Companies had depended on foot traffic and when that all dried up, some fell victim. Bolt Mobility acquired Gotcha’s assets in a foreclosure sale in December.

Tzoumas said Bolt was in a financial position to reinvigorate Gotcha. He said that in Mobile, Gotcha users won’t notice much difference at first. They’ll still use the same app but may notice that it says Gotcha is “Powered by Bolt," whose founding partners include Olympic medalist Usain Bolt, reported.

Bolt plans to go beyond short-range stand-up scooters.

“We have the opportunity to provide a full suite of multimodal devices. So we can go from sit-down cruisers to stand-up scooters to electric bicycles,” Tzoumas said. “It’s just a question of what the city wants.”

It’s hard to say exactly when these new options might arrive. Partly it’ll depend on how long it takes for vaccination campaigns to make it safe for public activity to return to pre-COVID levels. Partly it’ll depend on negotiations with the cities where Bolt plans to operate.

“The competition came in with a blitz mentality, they wanted to grab as much market share as they could. And that really is not the right way to work with a city,” Tzoumas said. “We’re not going to push anything that isn’t what the city wants,” he said.

Mobile’s city administration seems favorably disposed. A city spokesperson recently said that “there’s no legal hurdle that would prevent Gotcha or its new parent company from expanding services in Mobile. In fact, Gotcha told us today that its current plan is to expand services in Mobile in 2021 to include electric bicycles.”

“I think they’ll notice a change within the next six months,” Tzoumas said of Mobile.

Bolt already has a warehouse in Birmingham and should begin operations there in the first quarter of the year, he said.

Bolt’s fleet includes the Bolt One, a basic stand-up scooter, and the Bolt Chariot, a stand-up model with racks for shopping bags. The company website shows a Bolt Bike as “in production” and a Bolt Moped -- actually a sit-down scooter with no pedals -- as “coming soon.” It also shows a “sneak peek” at some more stylish sit-down scooters that draw on the styling of classic gas-powered models.

E-bikes and sit-down scooters present the potential to change rental mobility from a downtown novelty to an option for getting across town. That also means their users will be merging directly into city traffic, not skirting its fringes in limited areas.

Tzoumas said Bolt has worked hard to create a business model sensitive to local concerns.

“We’re never going to enter a city without the city’s full cooperation,” he said.