The Volkswagen Group and Greece have agreed to establish an innovative mobility system on the Mediterranean island of Astypalea. As part of the agreement, the current transport system on the island will transition to electric vehicles and renewable power generation. In a statement, Volkswagen said this association will lead to Astypalea becoming a model island for climate-neutral mobility. New mobility services such as vehicle sharing or ridesharing will be adopted to help reduce and optimise traffic. Additionally, energy will be generated from local power sources such as solar and wind. The project initially will run for six years.

“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 realize that vision already today. E-mobility and smart mobility will improve the quality of life, while contributing to a carbon neutral future,” said Dr. Herbert Diess, CEO of the Volkswagen Group.

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The project will be centred around an entirely new transport system with digital mobility services, including an all-electric year-round ridesharing service designed to improve upon the current very limited local bus service. Together with local partners, part of the traditional vehicle rental business will be transformed into a vehicle sharing service offering e-scooters from the Group’s SEAT brand and e-bikes in addition to electric cars. Volkswagen says this alone will help to significantly reduce the vehicle fleet on the island. In total, about 1,500 vehicles with combustion engines will be replaced by nearly  1,000 electric vehicles. Commercial vehicles from local businesses as well as utility vehicles on the island – such as police vehicles, emergency services transport and public sector fleets – will also be electrified. Volkswagen will install its Elli chargers across the island to ensure a comprehensive charging infrastructure offering about 230 private and several public charging points.

“I strongly believe in partnerships. Governments can't deliver on their own and the private sector isn't the answer to every question. That is why this ambitious endeavor 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 an European nation in full transformation mode,” said the Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic, Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Astypalea is an island in the southern Aegean Sea covering an area of some 100 square kilometres. It has a population of approx. 1,300 and is visited by some 72,000 tourists each year. Astypalea currently only has a very limited public transport service with two buses that only operate on a small area of the island. At present, energy demand is almost entirely met by fossil fuel sources.