News that lift-supplier Morris Vermaport is swapping their van fleet for Toyota Prius (what is the plural?) has reached Tachoblog.

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And because the cars are fuel-efficient full hybrids, the company is confident that the move will significantly reduce its whole-life costs, even as it benefits its drivers.

Until recently, its 30 home-based service engineers used conventional non-Toyota crew-vans to reach their customers around the country. But when one engineer started working on a contract in London last October, Morris Vermaport’s Operations Director Andy Waddell suggested that he use a Prius to save on congestion charging.

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Official combined fuel-consumption figure for the Toyota Prius is 72mpg, with CO2 emissions from 89g/km. “Fuel is a massive factor for us – we have been spending up to £13,000 a month on the vans,” Mr Waddell told Tachoblog.

“The Prius in real terms works out about £100 a month more to hire than the vans – but then, we’re getting twice the miles per gallon!”

The resulting positive feedback helped to persuade the management that hybrid cars were the way forward.

“We’re always looking at ways of doing things more efficiently and with less impact environmentally,” says Andy Waddell. “We also want to be seen by our customers to be green on the road.”

“We offer the Unique passenger lift, which is the lowest energy-usage lift on the UK market, in that it runs on 48V batteries rather than three-phase electrics and is fed by two trickle-chargers – in fact, much the same set-up as the Toyota Prius!

“So when we set out our latest three-year plan, with environmental care as one of our core values, we decided to go with Prius at the same time.”

The first six sign-written Prius T3 five-door hatchbacks were delivered in late June. They were supplied on a four-year/80,000 mile contract-hire agreement by JCT600 through Ron Brooks Mansfield.

And load-carrying? “Loadspace isn’t a big problem, because the service engineers don’t usually need to carry a lot of weight. If they should require anything heavy, we have a pick-up that goes out to sites every day.

“The engineers absolutely love Prius,” says Andy Waddell. “It was a real morale-booster for them, going from vans to air-conditioned cars, especially during the very hot spell at the time they were delivered. We’re getting very good reports back.”

Automatic air conditioning apart, key features on the Prius T3 include head-up display and Touch Tracer controls; seven airbags; smart entry and start; driver’s electric lumbar support; electric heated mirrors; six-speaker CD player; 15in alloy wheels; front fog lamps and electric windows all round.

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