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Valence bankruptcy filing shows difficulty of thriving in lithium-ion battery market

The country’s advanced battery makers waited years — in some cases, decades — for the day electric vehicles would go mainstream.

Yet now, even as cars such as the Nissan Leaf and the Chevrolet Volt are becoming recognizable brands, two of the country’s top lithium-ion battery makers are teetering on the brink of insolvency.

Austin-based Valence Technology Inc. tipped over the edge Thursday with the announcement that it had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and was negotiating a new source of funding that would boost its working capital and allow it to continue operating.

The Austin battery maker’s announcement came less than a week after Massachusetts-based A123 Systems Inc. told investors that it had about five months of cash remaining for its operations and would move to raise more funding in the interim.

A123 had raised $378 million through an initial public offering in 2009. The following year, it hauled in a $249 million grant from the Obama administration. Five months from now, who knows?
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