LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A fleet of nearly two dozen electric cars will kick off a test drive on Wednesday to determine the viability of alternative fuel vehicles as gas prices continue to spike.

KNX 1070’s Pete Demetriou reports a new research project sponsored by the Automobile Club of Southern California and Smart USA may give drivers more incentive to consider going electric.

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As the average price for gas hits $3.93 a gallon for regular unleaded — the highest since August of 2008 — Michigan-based distributor Smart USA is set to debut its low-emissions vehicle after receiving certification from the State of California Air Resources Board.

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The Auto Club research project will field a fleet of 20 “smart for two” electric drive vehicles over the next four years to help them determine how best to meet the needs of their members electric and hybrid vehicles.

The company plans to lease 250 of the vehicles throughout the nation during 2011.

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