Volkswagen (VW) will provide around 1,000 electric vehicles, alongside charging infrastructure, to the Greek island of Astypalea, as the country seeks to make its transportation system more sustainable.
The project, which will initially run for six years, has been created with the intention to build a “model island” for climate-neutral mobility.
Energy will be primarily generated from local green power sources, such as solar and wind, and residents will have access to an all-electric ridesharing service designed to improve upon the current very limited local bus service.
In total, some 1,000 electric vehicles will replace around 1,500 vehicles with combustion engines.
While the total number of vehicles is lower than before, part of the traditional vehicle rental business will be transformed into the vehicle sharing service which will offer e-scooters and e-bikes in addition to electric cars, helping to offset the reduction in vehicle numbers.
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.
Greece has long relied on coal, but Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has pledged to steer the country away from fossil fuels and boost the use of renewable energy.
“I strongly believe in partnerships. Governments can’t deliver on their own and the private sector isn’t the answer to every question,” said Mitsotakis, who joined VW’s virtual signing for the new agreement.
Astypalea is an island in the southern Aegean Sea covering an area of around 100 square kilometres. It has a population of approximately 1,300 but is visited by over 70,000 tourists each year. At present, its energy demand is almost entirely met by fossil fuel sources.
Dr. Herbert Diess, VW CEO, said: “Politics, business and society have a common responsibility to limit climate change. Our long-term goal is climate-neutral mobility for everyone.
“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.”
Konstantinos Fragogiannis, deputy minister of foreign affairs, said: “Today, Greece shows that it is ready to adopt ground-breaking, innovative and flagship investments that take society to another level of connectedness, smart sustainability and innate usability.”
VW has committed to the goals laid out in the Paris Agreement and aims to become climate neutral as a company by 2050.
In 2017, the firm unveiled an electrified successor to its iconic VW camper van, which will be called the ID Buzz. It is currently still at the concept vehicle stage, although working prototypes have been demonstrated on roads.