• Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer speaks during the 85th International Motor Show in Geneva, Switzerland, on March 3, 2015.

Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer speaks during the 85th International Motor Show in Geneva, Switzerland, on March 3, 2015. (Photo : Getty Images)

Legendary British carmaker Aston Martin has entered into a joint venture on Wednesday with Chinese consumer electronics firm LeEco to co-develop a luxury electric car, highlighting China’s emergence as a key player in the electric vehicle industry.

Best known for building James Bond's car of choice, Aston Martin said it has signed a deal with LeEco to develop an electric car based on the Aston Martin Rapide S model before branching out into other electric vehicles, including ones for LeEco. Financial terms of the transaction have not been disclosed.

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"It brings Aston Martin's electric car project forward," Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer told Reuters, adding that the car will hit the market by 2018 and will be built in Gaydon, England.

LeEco, formerly known as LeTV, hopes to use its online streaming services and celebrity endorsements to promote cars in the future.

"In China we have around 300 million people who visit our website. We could advertise the Aston Martin for free. And we can use celebrities to promote our vehicle. This is the way we do business," said Lei Ding, co-founder of LeEco's auto division.

The Aston-LeEco joint effort is also seen to benefit Faraday Future, a Los Angeles-based electric car startup backed by LeEco's founder and Chinese billionaire Jia Yueting.

"Aston can offer expertise in ride, handling refinement and those sorts of things," Palmer said.

China has been promoting the use of electric vehicles to reduce the smog that constantly envelops its cities, leading to sales quadruple in 2015 and turning the country into the world's biggest market for e-vehicles.

Earlier this month, Chinese Internet giant Tencent, China Harmony Auto Holding and Taiwanese firm Hon Hai announced their hiring of former BMW executive Carsten Breitfeld to lead their joint venture.

Recently, U.S. automaker General Motors announced that it is going to import a plug-in hybrid version of the Cadillac CT6 sedan and other high-end crossover models.

"Chinese companies are now able to offer technology for automobiles that is applicable not just in China, but globally," said Alysha Webb, managing partner of consulting firm Cross Pacific Partner.