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Volkswagen is partnering with the Greek state to transition the Mediterranean island of Astypalea to electric vehicles.

The aim is for 100km2 Astypalea to become a model island for climate-neutral mobility with a range of electric vehicles (EVs) and e-mobility services accompanied with energy generated primarily from local renewable sources such as solar and wind.

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 limited local bus service to a new level.

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Together with local partners, part of the traditional vehicle rental business will be transformed into a vehicle sharing service offering e-scooters from Volkswagen’s SEAT brand and e-bikes in addition to electric cars. This is expected to significantly reduce the vehicle fleet on the island.

In total, some 1,000 EVs will replace about 1,500 vehicles with combustion engines.

Volkswagen has just started to roll out its electric ID. family to the market, with the introduction of several new models planned over the next few years, in addition to the compact ID.3 and the SUV ID.4.

Commercial vehicles from local businesses, as well as utility vehicles on the island, including 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.

“Our long-term goal is climate-neutral mobility for everyone,” says Dr Herbert Diess, CEO of the Volkswagen Group.

“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.”

Under the memorandum of understanding concluded between the Volkswagen Group and the Greek state, the project will run initially for six years.

“We are launching the first ´Smart Green Island` project in our country, which marks a major change in our outlook,” adds Konstantinos Fragogiannis, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.

“Electric transport and a holistic, green and sustainable action plan will have a positive impact on the everyday life of the island’s inhabitants. Combined with a pioneering public transport system, we are turning futuristic ideas into reality.”

Astypalea located in the southern Aegean Sea has a population of approximately 1,300 but is visited by some 72,000 tourists each year. Currently the public transport service is very limited with two buses that only operate on a small area of the island.

At present, the energy demand is almost entirely met by fossil fuel sources.

The initiative forms part of Volkswagen Group’s goTOzero sustainability strategy, under which it expects to invest some €33 billion ($39 billion) in e-mobility in the next five years and launch about 75 new electric models by 2029.