UPDATE 1-China sets 2019 deadline for carmakers to meet NEV quotas

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BEIJING/SHANGHAI, Sept 28 (Reuters) - China has set a deadline of 2019 to impose tough new sales quotas for electric plug-in vehicles and hybrids, the country's industry ministry said on Thursday, in line with earlier targets but removing a set quota for next year.

Carmakers will need to hit a threshold equivalent of 10 percent of annual sales being new-energy vehicles (NEVs), the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said in a statement. That level would rise to 12 percent for 2020.

The targets remove an explicit 8 percent quota target for 2018, but otherwise match previously announced plans that global automakers have said will be "impossible" to achieve.

Reuters reported in August that China would delay the implementation of the NEV quotas until 2019, giving global automakers more time to prepare.

Keen to combat air pollution and close a competitive gap between its newer domestic automakers and their global rivals, China wants to set goals for electric and plug-in hybrid cars to make up at least a fifth of Chinese auto sales by 2025.

However, global automotive manufacturers wrote to Chinese authorities in June, urging a softening of the proposals for all-electric battery vehicles and electric plug-in hybrids. Automakers want a more flexible system of credits, and want China to reconsider penalties for not hitting the targets.

The broader measures supporting NEV sales will be effective starting April 1, 2018, the ministry added. (Reporting by Beijing Monitoring Desk and Adam Jourdan; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Stephen Coates)