Volkswagen and Greece are to establish a mobility system on the Mediterranean island of Astypalea.

To that end, the current transport system on the island will transition to electric vehicles and renewable power generation.

A memorandum of understanding to this effect was signed in Wolfsburg and Athens by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for Economic Diplomacy and Openness, Konstantinos Fragogiannis as well as Volkswagen Group CEO, Herbert Diess.

New mobility services such as vehicle sharing or ridesharing will help reduce and optimise traffic. Energy will be primarily generated from local power sources such as solar and wind and the project initially will run for six years.

“Politics, business and society have a common responsibility to limit climate change,” said Diess. 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.”

For his part, Greek Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, added: “Governments can’t deliver on their own and the private sector isn’t the answer to every question. That is why this ambitious endeavour is the result of the close partnership between the Greek State and Volkswagen Group.”

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At the centre of the project is a new transport system with digital mobility services, including an all-electric year-round ridesharing service designed to take the current very 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 offering e-scooters from the Group’s Seat brand and e-bikes in addition to electric cars.

This will help to significantly reduce the vehicle fleet on the island. In total, some 1,000 electric vehicles will replace around 1,500 vehicles with combustion engines. Volkswagen has just started to roll out its electric models to the market, with the introduction of several new models planned during the next few years.

Commercial vehicles from local businesses as well as utility vehicles on the island; 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 charging infrastructure offering around 230 private and several public charging points.

The project is supported by Volkswagen’s independent Sustainability Council as it serves as a blueprint for Volkswagen’s decarbonisation strategy.

Astypalea is an island in the southern Aegean Sea covering an area of 100 square kilometres. It has a population of approximately 1,300 and is visited by 72,000 tourists each year. Astypalea currently only has a very limited public transport service with two buses, which operate on a small area of the island.

At present, energy demand is almost entirely met by fossil fuel sources. The island aspires to become a pioneer for sustainable tourism in the coming years and is backing sustainable mobility.

Greece is supporting the transformation within the framework of its National Energy & Climate Plan.