Plugged In: A Personal Insight into Electric Vehicles in the Greek Islands

Recently, I had the pleasure of visiting the Greek island of Rhodes. The island has a population of only 100,000 (half of of whom live in the capital, also called Rhodes) but hosts 1.4 million visitors a year! 

A lot of these visitors hire vehicles to get around the Island so I thought I would see what sort of vehicles are used in the island’s rental industry and discover the industry’s thinking regarding electric vehicles (EVs).

Rhodes’ largest vehicle hire company is Rodus Car Hire which has more than 950 cars in its fleet and offers 100 different models for hire. Only one is a hybrid model – the Toyota Yaris.

Many of Rhodes’ streets are narrow, and though there are road rules to follow, it seems that a lot of drivers don’t obey them! There are a lot of vehicles on the island and walking on the roadside footpath, you can clearly smell the fumes from the light vehicles, from the trucks, and from the plentiful petrol-driven scooters used for personal transport.

The island relies on tourism, but this is a double-edged sword as while it brings money into the economy, it also puts stress onto the environment.

I spoke to Chris Towers, manager of Rodus Car Hire, about the local industry and whether the company would be looking to EVs and more hybrids as future product offerings to its customers and as a way of tackling pollution issues. From an Australian’s perspective, Rhodes would seem the perfect place for the EV revolution to succeed. For much of the year it basks in beautiful sunny weather (great for solar and renewable power) and at just 1,400 square kilometres in size (that’s considerably smaller than Queensland’s Fraser Island which is 1,800 square kilometres), you’d think that range anxiety would not be an issue.

There are, of course, hurdles to overcome – including the impact that everyone recognises will be felt by service stations, workshops and their employees – but the switch to hybrid and EV technology is on the horizon.
>“As a company, we do understand that electric is the future and we are probably five years away from going in that direction,” said Chris.

“The problem, as it is with a lot of places, is electrical charging stations, the cost, and getting people to change their ways.

“We have a diesel generator power station at Somoni in the northern part of the island but most houses, especially the newer ones, have solar panels – Rhodes has over 300 days of sunny days a year.”

“We are part of Europe and we will have to implement the rules on climate change and pollution. This will occur in the next five to 10 years. We must get the structure right. I see less dependence on diesel, which must be shipped in, and more on renewable such as wind and solar. So, yes, a massive change will occur.”

Rhodes is a beautiful island with a history dating back thousands of years, but it is, in some ways, a victim of its own popularity. Tourist numbers increase every year – and who can blame them for wanting to visit this majestic place – and while that is great for the economy, the vehicles many of them are driving are not the most eco-friendly. However, there clearly is hope in this area and within a decade it would seem that many vehicles here will be either EV or hybrid. And that is a great thing.

I’d like to thank Chris Towers from Rodus Cars for taking the time to talk to me.

Next time, I’ll be reporting from Germany. That should be interesting!

30 Jul 2019