Daimler AG, Ford Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. have formed a three-way partnership to develop a fuel-cell system that would be used to produce zero-emission vehicles, Louisville Business First reported.

The partnership is expected to significantly reduce investment costs, the companies said in announcing the collaboration Monday.

Each company will invest equally in the project, allowing them to launch an affordable, mass-marketed fuel cell electric vehicle by as early as 2017. "Working together will significantly help speed this technology to market at a more affordable cost to our customers," Raj Nair, group vice president of global product development for Ford, said in a release.

In another announcement Monday, General Motors Co. said it will invest $600 million at its assembly plant in Kansas City, Kan., to build a new paint shop and make other upgrades, Reuters reported. 

The investment is part of the U.S. automaker's previously announced plan to spend $1.5 billion on its North American plants this year, up from $436 million last year, Reuters reported. GM invests $8 billion annually on its operations globally.

GM CEO Dan Akerson, speaking to hundreds of workers, and state and local officials at the Kansas City plant, said the last four years at GM had been tough, but the automaker is now in a "renaissance."