OAK PARK, MI - TruGreen, a major professional lawn-care provider, is adding 10 hybrid electric trucks to its fleet for use in California.

The trucks will feature Azure Balance Hybrid Electric Drivetrains incorporated on the Ford E450 chassis. The drivetrain manages the conventional 5.4 liter-Triton gasoline engine and the 5-speed automatic TorqShift transmission to produce a cleaner, more fuel efficient vehicle. 

"TruGreen is always working to create and maintain beautiful outdoor spaces," said Jim Steffen, director of fleet engineering and technical support at ServiceMaster, TruGreen's parent company. "These Azure-equipped trucks can meet our fleet requirements, reducing fuel usage and emissions. Meanwhile, the quiet operation helps us preserve the tranquility of outdoor environments. Adding these vehicles to our fleet is the result of our focused effort to upgrade our fleet with new technologies and to deliver on TruGreen's overall commitment to improving our environmental responsibility." 

Since most commercial vehicle fleets spend approximately 50 percent of their total operational costs on fuel, the Balance Hybrid Electric's ability to improve fuel economy by up to 40 percent provides an enormous financial impact, Azure Dynamics said. 

Azure Dynamics Corp. is a major developer and producer of hybrid electric and electric components and powertrain systems for commercial vehicles. Azure is strategically targeting the commercial delivery vehicle and shuttle bus markets.

"We're thrilled to begin the relationship with TruGreen and enter into the lawn care service industry," said Jay Sandler, vice president of sales at Azure. "TruGreen and ServiceMaster are well-known and respected companies, and we're hopeful that this collaborative initiative will lead to other opportunities and market growth."

TruGreen was able to award this contract with the support of vouchers from California's Hybrid Vehicle Incentive Program (HVIP), which provides funds for environmentally friendly transportation solutions to companies operating fleets in the state.

The contract was managed by MHC Ford in Memphis, Tenn. Reading Truck Body in Reading, Pa., a leading manufacturer of service and utility bodies, provided the service bodies for the trucks. The vehicles are expected to be delivered in the first quarter of 2011.