UPDATE 1-China draws up plans to promote standardisation in electric vehicles

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SHANGHAI, March 27 (Reuters) - China said it will work to improve levels of standardisation in its electric vehicle industry - a sector it is aggressively promoting to help combat smog and to position the country as a leading car-making giant in the future.

This year its standardisation efforts will focus on recharging, battery design and fuel consumption, the industry ministry said in a statement.

China will also work to promote its own standards and benchmarks for electric and plug-in electric vehicles overseas, taking advantage of economies of scale to become a global leader in standardisation, it said.

Beijing is seeking to engineer a dramatic shift away from conventional gasoline cars with strict production quotas for the so-called new energy vehicles (NEVs), prompting a flurry of deals as both foreign and domestic automakers race to ensure they do not fall short.

Some 777,000 NEVs were sold in China in 2017, a jump of 53 percent on the year and the most sold in any one country. Beijing aims to bring annual sales to 2 million units by 2020.

China has already drawn up more than 100 technological benchmarks relating to electric vehicles but lack of standardisation has been identified as one of the major challenges facing the sector. Some local governments have even set different requirements to restrict firms from other regions from accessing their markets.

A lack of standardisation has also made it harder to create safe and cost-efficient automated recycling facilities, delegates to China's parliament said this month. China will have to deal with an estimated 170,000 tonnes of spent electric vehicle batteries this year.

(Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)