South Korea's SK Innovation said it would spend KRW1.14 trillion (US$1.01bn) to build its first electric vehicle battery plant in the United States to better compete in the global EV battery market.

The company said in a statement cited by the Reuters news agency the plant would have an annual capacity of 9.8 gigawatt-hours of batteries. SK Innovation would begin construction in the southeast US state of Georgia early in 2019, with production targeted for 2022.

Reuters noted that, last month, SK Innovation said it was considering building an EV battery plant in the US 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, and is a unit of the country's third largest conglomerate, supplies batteries to several global automakers, including Daimler and Hyundai Motor, but it does not have any US customers, the report said.

"SK Innovation has been actively looking for a production base to secure competitiveness in the battery business in the major global market," Kim Jun, CEO of SK Innovation, was cited by Reuters 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 added.

Reuters noted SK Innovation rival, LG Chem, runs an electric battery factory in Michigan that supplies General Motors.

SK Innovation itself operates battery plants in South Korea and has plans to build other battery plants overseas, including in Hungary and China.

In October, it said it planned to invest $355m in a plant to produce key EV battery parts in China.