November 26, 2018 / 10:13 AM / 17 days ago

South Korea's SK Innovation to build its first U.S. EV battery plant

FILE PHOTO: The logo of SK Innovation is seen in front of its headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, February 3, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea’s SK Innovation (096770.KS) said on Monday it will spend 1.14 trillion won ($1.01 billion) to build its first electric vehicle (EV) battery plant in the United States to better compete in the global EV battery market.

The plant will have an annual capacity of 9.8 gigawatt-hours of batteries. SK Innovation will begin construction in the southeast U.S. state of Georgia in early 2019, with production targeted for 2022, the company said in a statement.

Last month, SK Innovation said it was considering building an EV battery plant in the United States to win customers in one of the world’s top markets for electric vehicles.

SK Innovation, which owns South Korea’s top refiner SK Energy [SKENGG.UL] and a unit of the country’s No.3 conglomerate, supplies its batteries to several global automakers, including Daimler (DAIGn.DE) and Hyundai Motor (005380.KS), but it does not have any U.S clients.

“SK Innovation has been actively looking for a production base to secure competitiveness in the battery business in the major global market,” Kim Jun, chief executive of SK Innovation, was cited as saying in the statement.

“With our business in the hub of the global auto industry, we will grow as a top player in the battery business,” he said.

SK Innovation’s cross-town rival, LG Chem (051910.KS), runs an electric battery factory in Michigan that supplies batteries to General Motors (GM.N).

SK Innovation operates battery plants at home and has plans to build battery plants abroad, including in Hungary and China.

In October, it said it plans to invest 400 billion won in a plant to produce key EV battery parts in China.

Reporting by Heekyong Yang and Jane Chung; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Tom Hogue

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