Private owners of the island of Astypalaia get e-cars switched on
ATHENS – In a small model of what could work for the country by offering incentives to buy electric and hybrid cars, Volkswagen has delivered the first electric cars to the tiny Dodecanese island of Astypalaia.
The first private owners of the vehicles had their cars arrive in a fleet, including a series of scooters, after local authorities in 2021 as part of the Smart & Sustainable project, which is a joint effort by VW and the New Democracy government, with the use of electric vehicles had begun, noted Kathimerini.
Astypalaia will be transformed into an island where mobility is smart and sustainable, and the energy system will be completely renewed, it has been noted, ending the use of the internal combustion engine, a 19th-century invention.
Volkswagen launched a five-year project on the island in June 2021 to test the rollout of electric vehicles in areas that are simultaneously transitioning to sustainable energy production.
The €20 million (US$21.64 million) initiative has financial backing from the Greek government. It incentivizes residents to swap traditional vehicles for electric cars and scooters, and tests ride-sharing and public transport models that are driven by customer demand rather than using fixed schedules and routes.
“This is very valuable knowledge, because what we will see on this island in the next five, six or seven years will probably last 20 years or three decades in the rest of Europe,” said VW boss Herbert Diess during a presentation at the Island.
The company has ramped up plans to produce electric vehicles in recent years following a major emissions scandal first uncovered in the US. VW finally admitted to installing fraudulent software in millions of its diesel vehicles to make emissions appear less harmful on a test machine.
The Astypalea project is “a window to a cleaner, greener future,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in his address to the event, stressing that tackling the “unprecedented climate crisis” is urgent.
Greece is already starting the process of ending its reliance on lignite for power generation, he added, and is also creating “green jobs”.
During his visit to the island, Mitsotakis took part in the delivery of 8 electric cars and 12 chargers, a gift from the company, to the island’s police and port authorities.
A memorandum between the company and Greece to set up a breakthrough mobility system on the island was signed in November 2020. The project is initially scheduled to run for six years, with energy mainly generated from local green energy sources (sun and wind).
Greece is keen to expand electricity generation from renewable energy sources on its islands to replace expensive locally produced electricity, which mainly uses diesel, which is being phased out.
The government plans to use wind and solar energy for the Astypalea project. Officials said researchers from the Universities of the Aegean in Greece and Strathclyde in Scotland are also taking part in the programme.