Toyota’s Chief Test Driver Dies in Crash in Germany

New York Times

June 23, 2010

By RICHARD S. CHANG

Toyota’s chief test driver, Hiromu Naruse, died in a head-on collision on Wednesday in Germany, the newspaper Rhein-Keitung reports.

The story was picked up by Autoblog. A Toyota spokesman, Wade Hoyt, confirmed that Mr. Naruse, 67, had been killed in the crash.

According to Rhein-Keitung, the accident happened close to Toyota’s workshop near the Nürburging, an undulating racetrack that automakers use to test their vehicles.

Photographs and German video of the scene show a yellow Lexus LFA supercar and a BMW, both heavily damaged and nose-to-nose, along a slender two-lane road. The LFA that was involved in the crash appeared to be a prototype.

“The riders wore helmets and the cars were packed with electronics,” a police spokesman said. The cause of the accident is under investigation.

Rhein-Wied News reports that the BMW involved in the crash was also driven by a test driver, although it was a production vehicle. There was also a passenger. Both were seriously injured.

Mr. Naruse joined Toyota in 1963 in the Vehicle Evaluation and Engineering Division, according to Toyota’s Gazoo Racing fan site.

He was involved with Toyota Motorsports since 1970 and was an important figure in the development of Toyota sports cars, from the 2000GT to the Lexus LFA, a new flagship supercar with a retail price of $350,000.

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