Renault, Daimler, Ford in electric fuel cell link

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.

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