The Volkswagen Group and Greece have agreed to establish a groundbreaking mobility system on the Mediterranean island of Astypalea. The current transport system will transition to electric cars and vehicles, and renewable power generation. Astypalea will become a model island for climate-neutral mobility.
Astypalea, an island in the southern Aegean Sea that covers 100 square kilometres, has a population 1,300 and sees 72,000 tourists annually, but has a limited transport system. Currently, energy demands are met almost entirely by fossil fuels. The island aspires to become a pioneer for sustainable tourism and is backing sustainable mobility. The Hellenic Republic supports this transformation within the framework of its National Energy and Climate Plan.
Konstantinos Fragogiannis, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for Economic Diplomacy and Openness, and Dr Herbert Diess, CEO of the Volkswagen Group have signed a memorandum of understanding to this effect.
Initially, the project will run for six years and will include new mobility services such as vehicle sharing or ride sharing to help reduce and optimise traffic. Energy will be primarily generated from local green power sources including solar and wind.
At the centre of the project is an entirely new cutting-edge transport system with digital mobility services. These include an all-electric year-round ride-sharing service designed to take the limited local bus service to a new level. Together with local partners, part of the traditional vehicle rental business will be transformed into a vehicle sharing service. These will offer e-scooters from Volkswagen Group’s SEAT brand and e-bikes in addition to electric cars.
This alone will help to significantly reduce the vehicle fleet on the island. In total 1,000 electric vehicles will replace about 1,500 with combustion engines. Commercial vehicles from local businesses and utility vehicles will also be electrified. Volkswagen will install its Elli chargers across the island to ensure a comprehensive charging infrastructure with 230 public and private charging points.
Dr Herbert Diess, CEO of the Volkswagen Group, said: “Politics, business and society have a common responsibility to limit climate change. Our long-term goal is climate-neutral mobility for everyone. And with the Astypalea project we will explore how to realise that vision already today E-mobility and smart mobility will improve the quality of life, while contributing to a carbon-neutral future.”
The Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, said: “This ambitious endeavour is the result of the close partnership between the Greek state and Volkswagen Group. A world leader in the automotive industry that aims at making its fleet of vehicles and the company carbon neutral by 2050 coming together with a European nation in full transformation mode.”
Konstantinos Fragogiannis, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, said: “Today we are launching the first ´Smart Green Island` project in our country, which marks a major change in our outlook. Electric transport and a holistic, green and sustainable action plan will have a positive impact on the everyday life of the island’s inhabitants.
“Combined with a pioneering public transport system, we are turning futuristic ideas into reality. Today Greece shows that it is ready to adopt groundbreaking, innovative and flagship investments that take society to another level of connectedness, smart sustainability and innate usability.”