This article was published on June 11, 2021

Greek island lays ambitious plans to become super sustainable — but it’s just a drop in the Aegean Sea

Live your (electric) myth in Greece

Greek island lays ambitious plans to become super sustainable — but it’s just a drop in the Aegean Sea Image by: Volkswagen AG

Greece is known for its beautiful beaches, its breathtaking sunsets, and its fascinating history, but sure not for its EV infrastructure. Well, because there isn’t much.

But that’s about to change. Astypalea, a small picturesque island in the Aegean Sea, is set to become the country’s first smart sustainable island.

A few days ago, the first electric vehicles, including the first fully electric police car in Greece, were launched on the island in the presence of Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Volkswagen’s CEO Herbert Diess.

Astypalea will have an all-electric fleet of authority vehicles
The first fully electric police vehicle in Greece

The event marked the beginning of the E30million Lighthouse Project, the joint plan of the Volkswagen Group and the Greek government, which will transform Astypalea into a model island for climate-neutral mobility. 

Traffic on Astypalea will be converted to e-mobility

The <3 of EU tech

The latest rumblings from the EU tech scene, a story from our wise ol' founder Boris, and some questionable AI art. It's free, every week, in your inbox. Sign up now!

This will include the public transport system, local authority vehicles (police, paramedics), and companies as well as the private vehicles of the inhabitants. The first private and public charging stations have been created to facilitate the process. 

Specifically, regarding public transit, car sharing and ride sharing services will replace the old bus network, which, I can tell you as a Greek myself, is underdeveloped and unreliable. Contrary to the buses of the past, the e-mobility services will operate in the entirety of the island and all year round.

Alongside those, escooters and ebikes will also be incorporated. That way, the total number of vehicles in Astypalea is expected to drop by one third to 1,000.

What’s Volkswagen Group’s role in that? For starters, the Volkswagen brand will provide the electric cars for the project, namely the e-up!, the ID.3, and the ID.4. Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles will offer the commercial cars for public authorities and companies, and SEAT will contribute the ebikes. Urban Mobility International and Elli, will undertake the sharing services and the charging infrastructure, respectively.

Forget about diesel generators

The future Astypalea will no longer rely on diesel generators for electricity. Instead, households, companies, and traffic will cover their electricity demands through wind and solar power systems, which the Greek government will install on the island. As for the electric fleet, it will be powered by green renewable energy.

The first electric vehicles have already been launched in Astypalea
Credit: Volkswagen AG
The plan for turning Astypalea smart and sustainable

To ease the island’s transition to e-mobility, Mitsotakis announced during the launch a series of special subsidies that will be given to residents of the island when they transition to an electric vehicle (car, scooter, or bike).

As refreshing as it is to see that Greece is finally making a step towards sustainable mobility, focusing on a single small island is just a drop in the ocean, or the Aegean Sea if you wish.

Compared to other Europeans countries, that have already gone big in their zero-emission goals, Greece is moving very slow. The number of EVs is small, the charging infrastructure is minimal, and the government seems overall oblivious to green mobility alternatives, if they’re not good for business.

Don’t get me wrong here, I think the prospect of an “electric” Astypalea is inspiring, but it can only benefit the country if it successfully motivates the transition at a larger scale.

If you’d like to take a look the announcements, you can check out the video below. Don’t worry, it’s not in Greek.

Do EVs excite your electrons? Do ebikes get your wheels spinning? Do self-driving cars get you all charged up? 

Then you need the weekly SHIFT newsletter in your life. Click here to sign up

Get the TNW newsletter

Get the most important tech news in your inbox each week.

Also tagged with