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(Story updated with latest stock price action for A123, Valence and more lithium battery news)
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- It's the end of the week and shares of lithium battery maker A123 Systems( AONE) are still going strong after announcing at the beginning of the week the opening of the largest lithium-ion auto battery production facility in North America, based on available data.

A123 Systems stock settled up 4.3% to $9.17.

On Monday, A123 Systems stock jumped 9% to $8.02 in morning trading after the company made its announcement.

A123 Systems said the new plant in Livonia, Mich. is expected to expand A123's manufacturing capabilities by up to 600 MW (megawatts) hours a year when fully operational, contributing to the company's plan to expand global final cell assembly capacity to more than 760 MW hours annually by the end of 2011.

The opening of the Livonia factory comes just over one year after A123 was awarded a $249 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to help the company execute its strategy to ramp up U.S. manufacturing capabilities to meet increasing, market-driven demand for its innovative technologies, the company said.

A123 will focus on manufacturing prismatic cells and systems at the new 291,000-square-foot Livonia facility.

As part of its continuing U.S. manufacturing ramp up, A123 also plans to open a coating plant in Romulus, Mich., expected to come on line during the first half of 2011. In addition to the DOE grant, the company received $125 million in state incentives from Michigan as part of its 21st Century Jobs Fund to help finance these manufacturing facilities.

Last week, A123 peer

Valence Technology

(VLNC)

signed a multi-year supply agreement with Wrightbus, the United Kingdom's leading independent supplier of hybrid buses for public transportation systems, which Valence believes will generate between $19 million to $24 million in battery sales over the six-year term of the agreement.

Although the double-decker Wrightbus has been termed "they mayor's vanity project" by many, a BBC report said that the bus could significantly increase the quality of life for Londoners with a 40% increase in fuel efficiency and 40% decrease in CO2 emissions.

The report said that the project will cost about 7.8 million pounds. BBC said testing on the prototype begins next year with the first five buses due to be on the streets of London by 2012, and that other cities are already showing an interest in the new buses.

This new agreement secures the relationship between the two companies through 2016. The signing parties have had a relationship since 2005.

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Shares of Valence closed down 4.9% to 98 cents a share Friday afternoon.

Needham's most recent weekly lithium battery industry newsletter says

Nissan

(NSANY)

and

Sumitomo

have formed a joint venture aimed at commercializing used lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles. The join venture is capitalized at $5.42 million, Needham said.

Needham's most recent newsletter also said Japan-based battery manufacturer

GS Yuasa

is entering a joint venture with

Magna International

(MGA) - Get Magna International Inc. Report

and

Mitsubishi

to produce lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles in Europe. The partnership could begin operations in 2012 with eventual capacity for 50,000 electric vehicles, the newsletter said.

In an earlier newsletter, Needham said that

PepsiCo's

(PEP) - Get PepsiCo, Inc. Report

Frito-Lay North America division will be deploying 21 electric trucks this year and potentially 155 more in 2011; the supplier of the lithium-ion battery packs for these trucks is Valence Technology.

It also highlighted the unveiling of Korea's first electric car, the "BlueOn" by

Hyundai Motor

and the delivery of power components to more than 1,000 hybrid transit bus drive systems this year to

Maxwell Technologies

(MXWL) - Get Maxwell Technologies, Inc. Report

.

On Friday, it was reported by the

Wall Street Journal

that

China may begin demanding that foreign automakers submit key electric-vehicle technology to Chinese companies for access the world's No. 1 auto market.

The

Journal

said the plan comes as the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology devises a 10-year plan for the purpose of transforming China into the leader for developing and making electric and hybrid vehicles.

-- Written by Andrea Tse in New York.

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