The VW group and the Greek government have agreed to establish a “pioneering mobility system” on the Mediterranean island of Astypalea. To this end, the island’s current transport system is to be converted to electric vehicles and regenerative energies.
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In the long term, Astypalea should thus become a model island for climate-neutral mobility. The corresponding declaration of intent was signed today.
At the centre of the project is a transport system with smart mobility services, such as an electric ride-sharing service that operates all year round and is intended to make “today’s still very limited bus traffic” more attractive. Together with local partners, part of the conventional vehicle rental service will also be converted into a car-sharing service that will offer not only electric cars but also Seat’s e-scooters and e-bikes.
These projects alone should significantly reduce the vehicle fleet on the island. In total, around 1,500 vehicles with combustion engines are to be replaced by around 1,000 electric vehicles. Commercial vehicles active in the local economy as well as official vehicles, such as police, ambulances and the fleet of public sector vehicles, are also to be electrified. Volkswagen also plans to install Elli’s wall box chargers throughout the island “to ensure a comprehensive charging infrastructure”.
The project serves as a “blueprint for Volkswagen’s decarbonisation strategy” and is, therefore “strongly supported by the Group’s independent sustainability advisory board”. Margo T. Oge, member of the Sustainability Advisory Board and former Director of the Office of Transportation Air Quality at the US Environmental Protection Agency: “Climate change poses an existential threat to humanity. E-mobility, in conjunction with renewable energy, will help reduce the worst impacts of climate change. There is an Aristotle saying: ‘It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.’ The Astypalea project is a light in the darkness and will help demonstrate the future of clean mobility.”
Astypalea is an island in the southern Aegean Sea with an area of about 100 square kilometres, roughly comparable to the island of Sylt. It has about 1,300 inhabitants and is visited by about 72,000 tourists annually. Astypalea currently has only a very limited public transportation system with two buses serving only a small part of the island. At present, the energy demand is almost completely covered by fossil energy sources. In the future, the island should take a pioneering role in sustainable tourism. One of the main pillars is the change to sustainable mobility. The Republic of Greece supports this change in the framework of its National Energy and Climate Plan.
Update 03 June 2021: After the Volkswagen Group and the Greek government agreed to transform the Mediterranean island of Astypalea into a model island for climate-neutral mobility, things are now getting concrete: the first electric vehicles were put into operation, which are used by the police as well as at the airport and by the island administration. At the same time, the first private and public charging points went online.
Sales to private customers will start at the end of June. The VW electric models e-Up, ID.3 and ID.4 as well as the Seat Mó eScooter 125 will then be available. The Greek government is also supporting the switch to e-mobility with purchase premiums. The next step will be to launch the new mobility services: both the all-electric car sharing and the ridesharing service are already in preparation.
Scientists from the University of the Aegean (Greece) and the University of Strathclyde (Scotland) will accompany and systematically evaluate the transformation on Astypalea. The study will focus on the people of Astypalea and their attitudes towards the transformation. A series of surveys will investigate the general views on e-mobility and the willingness to switch to an e-vehicle. This will provide a deeper understanding of the key drivers and barriers to transformation. The results of the study will then also be made available to the general public and could thus help other regions to accelerate the transition to e-mobility.
Over the next five years, Astypalea is to be transformed into a smart, sustainable island. Mobility will be electric, powered by locally produced green electricity. New mobility services such as car sharing and ridesharing are to replace the current “rudimentary” bus line. All in all, not only will mobility be improved, but the number of vehicles on the island will also be reduced by about a third.
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