Volkswagen starts mobility services on Astypalea, marking next step in Greek island’s electrification

“Smart & Sustainable Island” project serves as a future laboratory for future mobility and rapid decarbonisation in Europe

The mobility of the future is already becoming a reality on the Greek island of Astypalea. In the presence of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess, the carpool service “ASTYBUS” and the vehicle-sharing service “astyGO” were launched today. Both mobility services operate exclusively with fully electric vehicles and provide significantly improved mobility on the island compared to the previous public transport system. It is the next step in the transformation of Astypalea: by 2026, the island aims to switch to smart, sustainable mobility and completely modernize its energy system. The joint project of the Volkswagen Group and the Hellenic Republic serves as a future laboratory for rapid decarbonisation in Europe.

Herbert Diess, CEO of the Volkswagen Group: “The discussion about the shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources has received a new impetus in Europe. Volkswagen is driving change and leading the transformation towards e-mobility in Europe. Here at Astypalea, we are introducing new mobility services as the next step towards the future of transport. It’s exciting to see the project grow, with people willing to change their habits. It shows that a rapid transformation to green mobility and green energy is feasible if companies and governments work together.”

Kostas Frangogiannis, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for Economic Diplomacy and Openness: “The Astypalea project reflects all the comparative advantages of present-day Greece, that is, how the country’s traditional natural wealth and precious human capital, with the support of a political leadership that faces the future and its challenges, with an open eye and with vision, bringing the country to the forefront of the world. I am very proud of what we have achieved so far, for the people of Astypalaia and for the whole country, especially at a time when the need to diversify and move away from traditional energy sources has become even more urgent worldwide. Thank you to all the supporters of the effort, to the government, to the local authorities, to the business community and to the citizens who dare.”

Smart, all-electric mobility services

The smart mobility services replace a traditional bus line, which until now provided limited public transport on Astypalea. Unlike the bus line, the mobility services will be in operation all year round and will connect many more places on the island. The ASTYBUS ridesharing service will start with five vehicles from the Volkswagen ID. Buzz as soon as the model is launched in the fall of 2022. Until then, the service will run with the ID.4. Through the vehicle-sharing service astyGO, customers can rent electric cars from Volkswagen, as well as e-scooters from SEAT MÓ and e-bikes from Ducati. All vehicles can be booked via smartphone and the integrated astyMOVE app.

The number of electric vehicles on Astypalea is continuously growing. After the police, airport authorities and the municipality switched to e-mobility last year, Greece’s first electric ambulance has now been added. A first e-taxi transports customers across the island and recently the first private customer received his ID.3. The Hellenic Republic promotes the switch to e-mobility with attractive purchase premiums.

New solar system to supply the e-fleet

The energy system is gradually being converted to renewable energy from local sources. Today, a second solar system has been commissioned, which supplies the current e-fleet with green energy. Furthermore, the Hellenic Republic today launched a tender for the further transformation of the energy system. By 2023, a new solar farm will provide about 3 megawatts of green energy, representing 100 percent of the energy needed to charge the electric vehicles and more than 50 percent of the island’s total energy needs. In 2026, the new energy system will be expanded further to more than 80 percent of the total energy demand. Until now, the island is powered by diesel generators.

Academic study: great interest in e-mobility and smart mobility services

According to preliminary results of an initial survey, people on Astypalea are very interested in electric vehicles and smart mobility services. More than 65 percent of the respondents indicate that they are generally willing to switch to an electric car, provided there are purchase subsidies. However, while environmental friendliness is the main benefit of electric vehicles, there are also concerns about cost and

charging infrastructure. Ridesharing and vehicle sharing can significantly change mobility behaviour. Nearly 50 percent of respondents said they would consider giving up their own vehicle and using the new mobility services under certain conditions.

The study was conducted in the summer of 2021 and a total of 221 people participated. The full first interim report will be published in the second half of the year. Scientists from the University of the Aegean (Greece) and the University of Strathclyde (Scotland) have been monitoring and evaluating the project over several years.

The “Smart & Sustainable Island” project aims to provide a deeper insight into the transformation of an entire system. Within five years, Astypalea should be largely converted to sustainable mobility and energy – with pure electric vehicles, smart mobility services and a green hybrid energy system. Asytaplea is about the size of Sylt and is visited by about 36,000 tourists every year.

SOURCE: Volkswagen

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