UPDATE 1-China's April auto sales rise 8.6%, up for 13th straight month

(Adds sales figure for new energy vehicles)

BEIJING, May 12 (Reuters) - Vehicle sales in China rose 8.6% in April versus the same month a year earlier, their 13th consecutive month of gains, industry data showed on Wednesday, as the world’s biggest car market leads the sector’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sales reached 2.25 million vehicles in April, data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) showed.

Sales of new energy vehicles (NEVs), including battery-powered electric vehicles, plug-in petrol-electric hybrids and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, maintained their strong sales momentum, jumping 180%, with 206,000 units sold in the month.

NEV makers, such as Nio Inc, Xpeng Inc and Tesla Inc, are expanding manufacturing capacity in China, encouraged by a policy of promoting greener vehicles to cut pollution. (Reporting by Yilei Sun and Tony Munroe; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Clarence Fernandez)