The Franco-Japanese automakers Renault-Nissan have signed a deal with Daimler and Ford to develop a fuel cell which would equip electric cars from 2017, a joint statement said on Monday.
The three groups plan to hold equal shares in the project and expect to launch the first large scale production of affordable fuel cell powered vehicles in 2017, the statement said, without providing financial details of the agreement.
"The collaboration sends a clear signal to suppliers, policymakers and the industry to encourage further development of hydrogen refuelling stations and other infrastructure necessary to allow the vehicles to be mass-marketed," the statement said.
Electric vehicles already represent a major development strategy for Renault-Nissan, and fuel cells, which used a chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity, are presented as a complement to that effort.
The companies aimed to "maximise design commonality, leverage volume and derive efficiencies through economies of scale," it added.
Nissan has already signed a similar agreement with fellow Japanese companies Toyota and Honda, and the Korean group Hyundai, to sell vehicles equipped with fuel cells in Scandinavian countries from 2015.