Almost all new cars to be registered on the island are 100% electric and in one year more than 200,000 km have been travelled by users of the ASTYBUS ride sharing service, popular both with tourists and residents: the transformation of the Aegean island is proceeding according to plan. The next step? The renewal of the energy system, starting in 2024.
A laboratory for smart and sustainable mobility: this is the role of the island of Astypalea, at the centre of the 'Smart & Sustainable Island' project in which the Volkswagen Group is collaborating with the Hellenic Republic with the aim of gradually converting the island to electric mobility, the adoption of digital shared mobility solutions and green energy. One year after the launch of the new services, the results are satisfactory.
The project is based on two pillars: all-electric transport and the availability of renewable energy to cover the island's needs. The transition from internal combustion engine vehicles to zero-emission vehicles is progressing in line with expectations; currently there are 84 electric vehicles on the road in Astypalea.
51 residents have replaced their cars with a zero-emission model, benefiting from incentives provided jointly by the Greek government and the Volkswagen Group to ease the transition. The portfolio includes Volkswagen e-up!, ID.3, ID.4, ID. Buzz and SEAT MÓ 125. Institutions - police, airport authorities and municipal administration - also travel electric, and an ambulance based on the Volkswagen e-Crafter is also operational.
...and green energy
To create a virtuous and highly efficient ecosystem, it will be necessary to completely renew Astypalea's energy system. The plan includes a gradual transition from the diesel generators used so far (emitting around 5,000 tonnes of CO2 on an annual basis) to renewable energy production from local sources. Two photovoltaic plants have been put into operation, capable of supplying the current electric fleet with green energy, among others. At present, the charging infrastructure includes 20 charging points, 1 DC charging point with a charging power of 50 kW reserved for the ambulance and 18 wallboxes installed by residents.
The next step is the construction of a hybrid system - which is scheduled to start operation in 2024 - that will include a solar park with a capacity of 3.5 MW and a storage facility and will cover 100 percent of the electric fleet charging needs and up to 60 percent of the island's total energy demand. By 2026, the new energy system will be further expanded to meet about 80 percent of the total energy demand.
One app, many mobility services
The revolution also concerns the approach to public transport on the island: a traditional bus line, which entailed obvious limitations in terms of capillarity and was only active for a few months, has been eliminated, replaced by an on-demand transport service - ASTYBUS ride sharing - which operates all year round with a fleet of Volkswagen ID. BUZZ meeting the needs of both residents and tourists. In parallel, the astyGO sharing service is available for the summer season, allowing users to use electric vehicles - cars, scooters and e-bikes - in a simple and immediate way.
The heart of the new mobility experience is the astyMOVE app, based on SEAT:CODE's Giravolta software platform. A multimodal solution, it grants access to various services from a single point. In just a few steps, users can book a ride in real time - with ASTYBUS they simply indicate where they are and where they want to go, and within minutes an ID. BUZZ will be on the spot - or rent a vehicle with astyGO: in this case, the user will immediately see the available parking spaces and the battery charge level, valuable information for an optimal experience.
The figures for the new mobility services are significant. Between June 2022 and May 2023, ASTYBUS made 27,327 trips totaling 211,400 km travelled; the total number of users was 1,762 (19% residents of Astypalea, 47% Greek tourists, 34% international tourists), and 25% of the residents of Astypalea use the service regularly.
Turning to astyGO, 209 users (of which 93% were tourists) used the service in the summer of 2022, travelling a total of 13,741 km. In both cases, the satisfaction rating is high.
Monitoring for improvement
Researchers at the University of the Aegean are monitoring the project through regular targeted interviews with residents and tourists. This makes it possible to assess the perceptions of the parties involved in the project and to understand how to intervene in possible areas of improvement. Among the most interesting data taken from the latest study is the high level of support for the transformation: 80 percent of islanders have a positive opinion of e-mobility and mobility services, a significant step forward compared to what was found when the project was announced in 2021.
In general, the new services have been well received and it is believed that the transition will contribute to improving the quality of life in Stampalia in many ways, including attracting tourists interested in experiencing smart and sustainable mobility first-hand.
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