Until recently, the Nottingham-based company's 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.

Following positive feedback, the firm decided that hybrid were the way forwards.

'We're always looking at ways of doing things more efficiently and with less impact environmentally,' said Mr Waddell. 'We also want to be seen by our customers to be green on the road."

'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.

With an official combined fuel consumption figure of 72mpg, the Prius has also been saving fuel costs for the firm too. 'Fuel is a massive factor for us - we have been spending up to £13,000 a month on the vans,' said Mr Waddell. '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!'

Loadspace hasn't been a problem as the company's service engineers don't usually need to carry a lot of weight.

And the vehicles have proved popular with the drivers. 'The engineers absolutely love Prius,' said Mr 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.'