The mobility of the future is already becoming a reality on the Greek island of Astypalea. The ridesharing service “ASTYBUS” and the vehicle sharing service “astyGO” were put into operation today in the presence of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess. Both mobility services are operating exclusively with fully electric vehicles and ensure significantly improved mobility on the island compared to the previous public transport system. It’s the next step in the transformation of Astypalea: By 2026, the island wants 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 a rapid decarbonization in Europe.
Herbert Diess, CEO of the Volkswagen Group: “The discussion about the shift from fossil fuels to renewables has gained new momentum in Europe. Volkswagen is a driver of change, leading the transformation to e-mobility in Europe. Here on Astypalea, we are introducing new mobility services as the next step towards the future of transportation. It’s exciting to see the project grow, with people willing to change their habits. It demonstrates that a rapid transformation to green mobility and green energy is feasible if businesses and governments work hand in hand.”
Kostas Frangogiannis, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for Economic Diplomacy and Openness: “The project of Astypalea reflects all the comparative advantages of today’s Greece, that is, how the traditional natural wealth and the precious human capital of the country, can, with the support of a political leadership facing the future and its challenges, with an open eye and with vision, bring the country to the world forefront. I am very proud of what we have achieved so far, for the citizens of Astypalea 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, globally. A warm thank you to all the supporters of the effort, to the government, to the local authorities, to the business world and to the citizens who dare.”
Smart, all-electric mobility services
The smart mobility services replace a traditional bus line, which has so far offered 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 operation with five vehicles of the Volkswagen ID. Buzz once the model has been launched in autumn 2022. Until then, the service will be operated with the ID.4. Via 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 growing continuously. After the police, airport authorities and the municipality switched to e-mobility last year, now Greece’s first electric ambulance is being 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 will be gradually transformed to renewable energy from local sources. Today, a second solar system was put into operation, supplying the current e-fleet with green energy. Furthermore, the Hellenic Republic has issued a call for tenders today for the further transformation of the energy system. By 2023, a new solar park will provide about 3 megawatt of green energy, covering 100 percent of the energy needed to charge the electric vehicles and more than 50 percent of the islands overall energy demand. By 2026, the new energy system will be further expanded to more than 80 percent of the total energy demand. Up until now, the island has been supplied with electricity from diesel generators.
Academic study: High interest in e-mobility and smart mobility services
According to preliminary results from a first survey, people on Astypalea are very interested in electric vehicles and smart mobility services. More than 65 percent of the respondents said they are generally willing to switch to an electric vehicle, if there are purchase grants. While environmental friendliness is the most important advantage of electric vehicles, there are, however, also concerns about costs and
charging infrastructure. Ridesharing and vehicle sharing could significantly change mobility behavior. Almost 50 percent of respondents said that under certain conditions they will consider giving up their own vehicle and switch to using the new mobility services.
The survey was conducted in summer 2021, with in total 221 people taking part. The complete 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) are monitoring and evaluating the project over several years.
The “Smart & Sustainable Island” project intends to provide a deeper understanding of the transformation of an entire system. Within five years, Astypalea is to be largely converted to sustainable mobility and energy – with purely electric vehicles, smart mobility services and a green hybrid energy system. Asytaplea is about the size of Sylt and is visited by around 36,000 tourists every year.