Toyota gained Japanese government approval to build and inspect high-pressure hydrogen tanks.

This thereby handles one of the main issues with hydrogen vehicles in that high tank pressures must be sustainable, durable, and reliable.

The company said this approval is an important production staging post in its program to launch its first fuel cell vehicle.

Having met the stringent criteria required by Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry – the first manufacturer to do so – Toyota can now increase production of tanks that can be used for safe storage of hydrogen fuel at up to 70MPa (700bar) pressure.

Toyota FCV Concept.

Toyota FCV Concept.

Toyota added this keeps the company firmly on track for the market introduction of its Fuel Cell Sedan in Japan, Europe and North America in 2015.

Japanese law requires all pressurized gas containers and accessories to be type-certified and made available for official safety inspections during the manufacturing process, explained Toyota. Until now, Toyota’s hydrogen tanks also had to undergo a further inspection before being installed in a vehicle. The inspection schedules had a direct impact on its inventory control and the manufacturing timetable for Toyota’s FCV prototypes.

By being both able and allowed to self-inspect the tanks it makes, The company can now streamline its FCV manufacturing process, while, said Toyota, maintaining the highest quality and safety standards. As well as improving efficiency and productivity, Toyota also expects this to help reduce the cost of FCVs.

To gain official approval, known as KHKS 0102, Toyota said it has had to meet 194 requirements and demonstrate an appropriate high level of quality management. The company added it prepared a quality manual and a set of inspection rules to provide a fully documented hydrogen tank quality management system that goes beyond its own operation to include affiliated parts suppliers.