GR US

Volkswagen Bringing Electric Cars to Tiny Greek Island Astypalea

Αssociated Press

FILE - In this Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2018, file photo a logo of the brand Volkswagen on top of a company building is pictured prior to a Volkswagen stock company press conference in Wolfsburg. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn, file)

ATHENS -- In an attempt to create a greener transportation system on the tiny but popular Greek island of Astypalea, Volkswagen is going to provide electric vehicles and 

Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess and Greece's Deputy Foreign Minister Konstantinos Fragogiannis signed a memorandum of understanding at a virtual event for the project on the Aegean island that has only 1,334 residents but is favored by tourists who prefer out-of-the way quiet places.

Greece has long relied on coal, but Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has said he wants to move the country away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy although there aren't major plans to use solar power yet.

"I strongly believe in partnerships. Governments can't deliver on their own and the private sector isn't the answer to every question," said Mitsotakis, who also joined the event, said the Reuters news agency in a report.

Astypalea has little public transport available, only two buses and coal is the major source of power in 2020.

The project, which will initially run for six years, will see part of the island's vehicle rental service transformed into a ride-sharing service offering electric cars and e-scooters. Commercial and public sector vehicles will also be switched to electric, it was reported, but no details were given.

The project will involve replacing about 1,500 internal combustion engine vehicles with around 1,000 electric cars and scooters and VW will put Elli chargers at some 230 public and private charging points.

"Our long-term goal is climate-neutral mobility for everyone," Diess said. "And with the Astypalea project we will explore how to realize that vision already today,” as major car manufacturers are moving toward an electric future.

The New Democracy government is hoping that the agreement will lead Volkswagen, as did Microsoft in saying it would open a major computer cloud center in Athens, would increase investments in the country.