Jeffries Cars has set up an Eco Cars arm to help promote greener transport in the city.
The company has taken on two Toyota Prius hybrid cars this year, and is about to take delivery of a third. "We hope to grow this quite quickly," says director Sarah Jeffries.
"People are genuinely interested in taking a greener route in Manchester, and there's a lot of interest in hybrid technology and awareness of the fuel and carbon savings possible. That makes it easier for us than it was for companies doing this elsewhere a few years ago. We expect the interest to snowball."
"Passengers love the Prius, and we still get comments when it stops at the lights, the electric motor cuts in and they think it's stalled," she says. "I would say that nine out of 10 of the passengers show interest in the cars.
"Local companies who use our services like the Prius too, because so many of them have their own criteria for cutting down CO2 emissions, and that makes it a useful selling tool for us.
"We recently secured a big NHS contract after scoring points for having the Prius. The contract is shared between four private hire companies but we were the only applicant able to specify lower carbon transport."
Jeffries Cars runs a large mixed fleet of saloons, MPVs and mini-buses, but in view of the rising interest in hybrid technology "we're actually offering potential account customers free trials with the Prius, to raise awareness and help them decide whether they want to use it in future," says Sarah.
"The drivers really like the cars too, and they've actually become quite competitive in seeing who can get the most miles per gallon out of them. That's good for our costs – and driving carefully also makes them safer, of course." Official combined fuel consumption figures for the Toyota Prius fitted with 15 inch wheels is 72.4mpg, and CO2 emissions are 89g/km.
So far Jeffries' Eco Cars has obtained its hybrid vehicles through British Car Auctions: "The first two were Mk 2s, and we saved a lot that way just to get started. But if, as we expect, we start turning more of the fleet over to Prius, we're already talking to Toyota about the possibilities of hire purchase or contract hire."