UPDATE 1-Daimler, Ford and Nissan team up on fuel cell cars
* Three link up to speed up large-scale market launch
* Other carmakers such as Renault invited to join
* Alliance aims to build six-digit number of fuel cell cars
NABERN, Germany, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Three global carmakers joined forces on Monday to develop a range of affordable fuel cell cars for sale from 2017 in what could be the first major advance for the zero-emission technology.
Daimler, Ford and Nissan said the new alliance sent a clear signal to suppliers, policymakers and the industry to encourage further development of the technology worldwide.
"We believe we were never as close to reaching a breakthrough in fuel cell cars as today thanks to this partnership," Daimler research and development chief Thomas Weber said on Monday.
Fuel-cell cars run purely on electricity just like the better known battery-powered cars such as the Nissan Leaf . But they can be used over longer distances and refuelled in only a matter of minutes, just like cars using a combustion engine.
The technology works by converting compressed hydrogen gas stored in a tank into electricity with the help of oxygen, creating only water vapour as an emission.
Weber also stated that other carmakers were invited to join the alliance, including Nissan's shareholder Renault.