- The Greek island of Astypalea receives its first EVs from Volkswagen, as part of a plan to replace all vehicles on the island with EVs.
- The island will transition to sustainable energy sources in the coming years, relying on solar and wind power.
- Electric scooters and EV car-sharing will replace buses on the island, while residents will be given incentives to replace cars with EVs.
Volkswagen launched its grand EV experiment on the Greek island of Astypalea this week, which the automaker plans to turn into a model for green mobility in Europe, using it as a lab of sorts for sustainable and carbon-neutral living. The project will seek to turn the rocky Aegean island’s entire transportation system to electric vehicles—everything from taxis to police cars to scooters—while producing the electricity itself from wind and solar sources, something that mainland Greece is migrating to in the coming years for energy needs.
The first phase of the project kicked off this week with deliveries of the first electric vehicles for city services and the openings of EV chargers, with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Volkswagen Group CEO Herbert Diess in attendance.
VW plans to provide the island with a fleet of 1000 EVs that will replace some 1500 current vehicles that are powered by gas and diesel engines—the entire municipal fleet—in addition to commercial delivery vehicles as well. This week saw the deliveries of EVs to the island’s government, airport, and police, while plans are being made to launch an EV car-sharing service on the island. EV sales will begin in a matter of days with VW shipping its ID.3 hatch, ID.4 crossover and e-Up! hatch to the island, while VW’s Spanish brand will offer the SEAT MO eScooter 125.
The power for the island’s EV fleet will come entirely from a new solar park by 2023, which will also provide half of the island’s own electric needs, producing 3 megawatts of green energy, and will climb to providing 80% percent of the island’s energy by 2026, replacing the diesel generators currently used. The island will also feature a battery storage system to balance the grid as needed, with its ultimate aim to becoming self-sustainable and not dependent on energy from the mainland.
“Astypalea will be a future lab for decarbonization in Europe. We will be researching in real time what motivates people to switch to e-mobility and which incentives are needed to transition to a sustainable lifestyle,” said Diess. “The learnings will help to accelerate the transformation towards sustainable mobility and green energy in Greece. Worldwide, climate protection is gaining enormous traction. Volkswagen has been driving this change, offering the full range of sustainable mobility—from cars, to charging, to sustainable energy solutions. Astypalea can become a blueprint for a rapid transformation, fostered by the close collaboration of governments and businesses.”
The island is also small enough, with an area of 44 square miles and a population of just over 1,300, for the transformation to green energy and electric vehicles to happen over a relatively short span of time, and for the changes to be noticed, especially when it comes to public perception of electric vehicles. Scientists from the University of the Aegean in Greece and from the University of Strathclyde in Scotland plan to study the island over a period of time as it converts to solar and wind energy, and to an EV fleet of public and private vehicles, with the government of Greece offering incentives to locals to switch to electric vehicles sooner.
One of the related goals on the island will be to cut the number of vehicles by about a third, through the introduction of car-sharing and ride-sharing services, and the replacement of the basic bus system with alternative modes of transport. Of course, battery-electric buses can be purchased even today, but given the island’s small population and modest land area, it would be more prudent to switch non-car personal transportation to electric scooters, which VW Group brand SEAT will help introduce to the island.
Is the lack of public charging stations a factor that’s keeping you away from EVs, or is it another factor like range? Let us know in the comments below.
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