Electric Vehicles

Volkswagen, Greece agree to turn island of Astypalea into an electric vehicle oasis

Astypalea is an island in the southern Aegean Sea that currently runs primarily on fossil fuels.

Photo by Cavan Images/Getty Images

Volkswagen Group and Greece have signed a memorandum of understanding that will create a mobility experience experiment on one of the country's islands. Astypalea is set to become a model for climate-neutral mobility, according to a release announcing the news. The project is set to run six years.

"I strongly believe in partnerships. Governments can't deliver on their own and the private sector isn't the answer to every question. That is why this ambitious endeavour is the result of the close partnership between the Greek state and Volkswagen Group. A world leader in the automotive industry that aims at making its fleet of vehicles and the company carbon neutral by 2050; coming together with an European nation in full transformation mode," said the Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic, Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Astypalea Volkswagen render Volkswagen has provided an illustration of what they view the future of Astypalea to look like.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Astypalea is located in the southern Aegean Sea and consists of about 100 square kilometers of land. That make it about 1.5 times as big as Disney World and around the same size as Washington D.C. The island is visited by about 72,000 tourists a year, making it far less popular of an attraction than either Disney World or Washington D.C.

To achieve the climate-neutral status, the island will transform its current mobility services to electric vehicles, as well as move their electric grid to renewable power generation. The power sources will move to solar and wind.

Additionally, new mobility services including vehicle- and ride sharing will be implemented, exchanging the current limited bus system of the island (there is currently only two buses servicing the entire island) for more extensive transport. Volkswagen says that these efforts will "help reduce and optimize traffic" and include e-scooters from the Group's SEAT brand and e-bikes in addition to electric cars (this includes the ID.3 and ID.4 as well as forthcoming additions to the VW lineup).

In total, 1,000 electric vehicles will replace about 1,500 vehicles with combustion engines. Volkswagen will install Elli chargers across the island, offering about 230 private and several public charging points.

Dr. Herbert Diess, CEO of the Volkswagen Group, said: "Politics, business and society have a common responsibility to limit climate change. Our long-term goal is climate-neutral mobility for everyone. And with the Astypalea project we will explore how to realise that vision already today E-mobility and smart mobility will improve the quality of life, while contributing to a carbon neutral future."

The project will also see emergency services vehicles be electrified.

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Interesting backstory

Volkswagen Bus part inspired popular dog toy

The classic VW Bus inspired one of the most popular dog toys of all time.

Volkswagen

Product designs sometimes take inspiration from the places we expect the least. Moments of genius are driven by finding solutions to unique problems, and as it turns out, that's exactly how we ended up with KONG. The beefy, durable dog chew toy is modeled after a Volkswagen Bus part.

Joe Markham's shop Markham needed a dog for security, but he unexpectedly got a chew-crazy pet.Volkswagen

KONG's inventor, Joe Markham, adopted a German Shepherd to help with security at his auto repair shop in downtown Denver, CO. The dog, while a great addition to the shop, came with a few bad habits. The dog's most worrisome hobby was chewing, which he would do with almost anything he could find, especially rocks. As you might imagine, chewing on rocks is not good for the dog's teeth. Markham needed a durable chew toy, but nothing seemed to work, from animal bones to radiator hoses.

The solution came from an unlikely place: While working on a 1960sVW Type 2 Bus, Markham discovered that the rubber axle stop made a perfect chew toy. The dog had gotten ahold of the rubber stop, and while he was chewing viciously, neither the stop nor his teeth were damaged.

The discovery led Markham to spend the next six years experimenting with various rubbers, sizes, and shapes for his dog toy. After working with rubber experts in Germany, the design was finalized and the KONG was born. The shape for the toy ended up being very close to that of the axle stop. The funky, bulbous design meant that the toy wouldn't bounce like a ball, and would instead flop around randomly, which is similar to the way that small animals run away from predators.

VW Bus axle stop The axle stop from a VW Bus inspired KONG's shape.Volkswagen

It's worth noting that you should not intentionally let your dog chew on any part of your vehicle. Even unused automotive parts can contain chemicals and other harmful materials that could make your dog sick or worse. This isn't a pitch to buy a KONG, just a warning about the hazards of car parts being used as dog toys.

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The new Tiguan sports an all-new front-end design.

Volkswagen

The Volkswagen Tiguan is an interesting compact SUV with a fun-to-drive personality and plenty of style. After 14 years on sale, the Tiguan is just in its second generation, but VW has given it a significant update for the 2022 model year that brings new tech, updated styling, and a refreshed interior.

2022 Volkswagen Tiguan The rear has been massaged with new badging and standard LED taillights. Volkswagen

The restyled Tiguan is available in four trim levels: S, SE, and SE R-Line Black. All models get a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 184 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive are standard, but VW's 4Motion all-wheel drive can be optioned in.

Styling updates are the big story for the 2022 Tiguan. The front end is entirely new and carries design cues from the larger Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport. LED headlights are now standard, and an illuminated light line is available for the SUV's grille. On the rear liftgate, the Tiguan model name lettering also mirrors that of the Atlas, with the name spelled out underneath the VW logo.

2022 Volkswagen Tiguan Most trims get an 8-inch touchscreen.Volkswagen

Inside, the Tiguan now comes standard with heated seats, while a heated steering wheel and ventilated seats are available. Cloth upholstery is standard, while mid-range trims get leatherette. The top SEL R-Line comes with leather and a perforated leather-wrapped sport steering wheel. Front-wheel drive models come standard with three rows of seating as well, making the Tiguan one of the more family-friendly vehicles in its class.

2022 Volkswagen Tiguan The top trim gets upscale leather upholstery.Volkswagen

The base Tiguan S comes with a 6.5-inch touchscreen running Volkswagen's excellent MIB 2 software, but all others get MIB 3 infotainment software running on a glass-covered 8.0-inch touchscreen. The automaker notes that it's a capacitive touch system, which functions more like a smartphone than other infotainment systems, which sometimes require pressure to register a touch input. All Tiguans get a digital gauge cluster with an 8-inch display, while the top SEL R-Line upgrades to a 10.25-inch configurable gauge cluster that offers full-screen navigation and other views.

Pricing for the 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan starts at $25,995 for the base S trim with front-wheel drive. Adding all-wheel drive pushes the prices to $27,495. All Tiguan models will see a $1,195 destination charge tacked on at the bottom line.

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