Daimler, Ford and the Renault-Nissan alliance have joined forces to develop fuel cell technology for what they hope will see the three companies launching the world's first affordable, mass market fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) by 2017.

By joining forces, the three entities will reduce the hefty investment costs associated with engineering such technology and they'll realise far greater efficiencies of scale.

FCEVs are powered by electricity that's generated from hydrogen and oxygen within the fuel cell stack and the vehicles emit nothing but pure water vapour and heat.

The three have also promised that while the fuel cell stack and fuel cell system will be the same across the three brands, the actual products will be differentiated, presumably in terms of styling, interiors, suspension and so forth.

At the same time, the companies are hoping that their three-way agreement will inspire the industry to accelerate the development of hydrogen refuelling infrastructure.