• Sep 2, 2014
Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Ministry has certified Toyota to self-inspect its high-pressure hydrogen tanks. The approval allows more freedom in production timing, as outside inspectors previously had to be on site during the manufacture of hydrogen tanks for vehicle prototypes. Toyota has passed the stringent standards to become a registered manufacturer of the 700-bar hydrogen tanks, which the company will use in its upcoming fuel cell vehicle (FCV). With the improved efficiency this certification allows in the manufacturing process, Toyota believes it will help to lower the cost of the FCV. Read more in the press release below.

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Toyota Approved to Self-inspect and Manufacture Hydrogen Tanks for FCVs

Toyota City, Japan, August 29, 2014―Toyota Motor Corporation has received approval from Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) to self-inspect and manufacture high-pressure hydrogen tanks for fuel cell vehicles (FCVs). This makes Toyota the first company to become a registered manufacturer of 70 MPa (700 bar) hydrogen tanks under Japan's High Pressure Gas Safety Act, revised in 1997 by METI. Toyota will now be able to increase the efficiency of the process of manufacturing safe high-pressure hydrogen tanks that ensure customer confidence.

Under the Act, all containers and accessories for storing gases at pressures of 1 MPa (10 bar) and above must be type-certified by METI, and are subjected to witnessed inspections by the High Pressure Gas Safety Institute of Japan (KHK) during the manufacturing process. Hydrogen tanks require an additional inspection upon completion. Since the tanks cannot be used in vehicle assembly until they pass these inspections, until now, KHK inspectors were required to be present during the manufacture of hydrogen tanks for Toyota's various test vehicles, such as the Toyota FCHV-adv. This, in turn, meant that tank inventory control and manufacturing plans, in addition to broader FCV production plans, needed to be adjusted around tank inspection schedules.

Due to ongoing plans to bring an FCV sedan to market in Japan before April 2015, Toyota applied to register as a container manufacturer in order to be able to self-inspect and manufacture high-pressure hydrogen tanks. To receive approval, a company must meet KHKS 0102, a set of stringent criteria containing 194 requirements set forth by KHK, and must demonstrate that it possesses a high-level manufacturing quality management system.

To meet the KHKS 0102 criteria, Toyota developed a quality manual and container inspection rules based on its extensive quality management expertise, and established a fully documentable hydrogen tank quality management system that extends to affiliated parts companies. In June, following KHK's onsite audit of its high-pressure hydrogen tank production process, Toyota was judged to have met KHKS 0102 criteria. The following month, Toyota submitted an application to the Chubu Kinki Industrial Safety and Inspection Department to request approval from METI.

With this approval, Toyota will be able to manufacture tanks using in-house inspectors, without the need of witnessed inspections by KHK. Toyota believes this will lead to improved manufacturing efficiency for high-pressure hydrogen tanks, and to productivity improvements and cost reductions for FCVs.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 11 Comments
      archos
      • 3 Months Ago
      As if its such a huge burden to have an "outside" inspector at the assembly line. That regulation was put there to make sure any issues would be properly dealt with. To anybody familiar with how GM handled problems when they discovered them, this only makes quality concerns with hydrogen storage more valid.
      jeff
      • 3 Months Ago
      I was wondering how this would work.... I know that the DOT requires all high pressure tanks on road going vehicles to be inspected once a year or so.... I guess you will have to have Toyota do that every year with this vehicle...
        DaveMart
        • 3 Months Ago
        @jeff
        I doubt it. They are talking about checks when they are manufactured. Here in the UK our LPG tanks in cars just have to be checked by certified garages once a year for £60. I would imagine that on the continent where they use NG instead they would check their pressure tanks in a similar way, and will do the same again for hydrogen.
          DaveMart
          • 3 Months Ago
          @DaveMart
          Having the inspection done in a local certified garage is likely to be a different and cheaper affair than only Toyota being certified to do it. The original inspection regime is a good example of why costs of early prototypes are so high, and one of the many ways that they tend to come down a lot quite swiftly. Prices being $70k right now in Japan does not indicate what they may be in a couple of years, let alone with the next model.
          GoodCheer
          • 3 Months Ago
          @DaveMart
          It sounds a lot like you're agreeing, just with the term 'certified garages' in place of 'Toyota', which in this article was described as 'certified to self-inspect'. So, certified inspector; annual inspection. All in agreement?
        Letstakeawalk
        • 3 Months Ago
        @jeff
        The PR makes it clear that Toyota is allowed to inspect the tanks that they manufacture, before they are installed into a vehicle. "Hydrogen tanks require an additional inspection upon completion. Since the tanks cannot be used in vehicle assembly until they pass these inspections, until now, KHK inspectors were required to be present during the manufacture of hydrogen tanks for Toyota's various test vehicles, such as the Toyota FCHV-adv." Toyota will no longer be required to have outside inspectors standing on the assembly line. This has nothing at all to do with whatever later regular inspections may be required in different markets. The Japanese METI approval has little impact (if any) on the post-sale inspection requirements/process in Europe.
          fairfireman21
          • 3 Months Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          So you are saying that every defect will be acounted for. Then what about the UE they had and knew about for 10 years. No they will say (toyooota) it was checked, whatever problems you have are YOURS. What would you like too bet.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 3 Months Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          I'm saying that the tanks will be inspected, tested, and documented according to the same standard as everyone else. The standard isn't being changed, just the people who are enforcing it. I understand that some would like to imply that Toyota is not capable of maintaining adequate quality control, and no argument can dissuade them from their preconceptions. The reality is that even the most rigorous QC will still have failures, but as long as the process is properly documented, those failures can be minimized and traced back so that the production process can be improved. Toyota has established a testing and documentation regimen that satisfies the requirements the government has set, just as every other pressure container manufacturer has to do.
      Letstakeawalk
      • 3 Months Ago
      Toyota has taken the time to meet the KHKS 0102 criteria, and so they are allowed the same privileges as any other pressurized container manufacturer. Toyota isn't getting special treatment or an exemption, they're being held to the same standard as any other tank supplier would be. The tanks are still tested, and documentation will exist I'm not sure why Archos would attempt to spread FUD... unless for some reason he'd rather Toyota not ramp up compressed hydrogen tank production.
      Koenigsegg
      • 3 Months Ago
      that thing is an eyesore
      GoodCheer
      • 3 Months Ago
      What's this Telsa I'm hearing so much about?