• Jun 23, 2010
Click above to view the video after the jump

According to reports, Toyota's chief test driver, 67-year-old Hiromu Naruse, has died in a crash on highway 410 near the famed Nürburgring race track in Germany. He was driving the recently spied Lexus LFA Nürburgring Edition (above) at the time of the accident, and reports say he veered into oncoming traffic and collided head-on with two others test drivers in a BMW. The two BMW test drivers survived the crash, though one is reportedly still in critical condition. German video of the crash scene after the accident took place can be viewed below. Police are investigating the crash and have yet to determine its cause.

Naruse was heavily involved with the development of the Lexus LFA supercar he was driving, along with many other past sports cars from Toyota's history since he joined the company in 1963. Enthusiasts today call him the "Godfather of the LFA," though he was involved in the development of sports cars for Toyota going as far back as the storied 2000GT from the late 1960s. The prototype of a special edition version of the LFA that he was driving when the accident occurred was reportedly worth 1.5 million euro.



[Source: Rhein-Wied, Rhein-Zeitung, Spiegel]



I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 66 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      First off, let me add my condolences to those both directly and indirectly involved.

      Not trying to be morbid or offensive, but since there will obviously be a lot of engineers looking in to this event (and I only looked at the single photo, not the video), it appears that the BMW has a broader complement of airbags, and its structure may have held up better than the LFA. One wonders if Toyota can extract additional information from this incident around the impact behavior, and if they can find any reasonable improvements.

      Ultra-high performance cars probably have an increased likelihood of being in high-force impacts, and I always consider part of the cost and value of high end cars to be the development costs involved in improving survivability. (Again, within reason; it's a given that it's impossible to make cars in which the occupants can survive everything.)
        • 4 Years Ago
        To my eyes, this wasn't a very bad crash. Look at this way: the passenger cells of both vehicles are intact, and the doors look to have opened freely. Both cars performed well. The crumple zones are toast, but that is as it should be. This looks little worse than a standard 35mph barrier test - which would mean the cars were probably each going slower than that (for a slightly higher closing speed). Others here have speculated that the Lexus _may_ have had its airbags removed since it is a testing vehicle, I don't know. It's all speculation. It'll come out eventually.

        Personally, I wouldn't be surprised if this was the result of a medical emergency...
        • 4 Years Ago
        Actually I think the LFA held up really well-the passenger compartment appears to be perfectly intact. The fact that the front shattered off like that is because the car is made out of carbon fiber-which explodes on impact to dissipate the force. So the fact that it looks crummy is not really a good way to judge whether it dealt well with the crash or not-it's like how modern cars look worse after crashes than old cars that didn't have crumple zones, but are a lot safer because the metal flexes. If you watch crashes of other carbon monocoque vehicles you'll see that the cars usually look horrible after the accident, even if the drivers walked away with only minor injuries. Ferrari Enzo crashes for example, often have the car split up into pieces with body almost entirely torn off. Like this: http://www.crashstuff.com/wp-content/gallery/ferrari-enzo-crash-pictures/thumbs/thumbs_Enzo_6.jpg
        But that's how the cars were meant to react in a crash-they're supposed to have parts shear off.

        You also can't use the fact that the side impact airbags went off on the BMW to assume that the LFA didn't have airbags-there was likely no side impact type force that would have triggered side airbags on the LFA-simple as that. When they crashed they were both in the turn so depending on the angle of the crash the BMW might have gotten a lot more force from the side than the LFA. If you watch the video it appears that the dual-stage front airbags went off in the LFA and I don't see massive amounts of blood anywhere so presumably the problem isn't with the airbags.

        Honestly, based on what you can see in the photos and videos it looks like both cars held up very well for this type of impact (head on collision)-the passenger compartments in both vehicles appear entirely intact, and it looks like the airbags that should have gone off did in both cars. If Mr. Naruse suffered a medical problem then he might have died because of that and not so much because of the crash, although surviving any head on collision at speed is always difficult no matter how safe the car you're in.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Two way + blind corner + either car speeding = disaster


      Looking at how the LFA is so close to the edge of the road I believe both cars where traveling on the inside lane coming around the blind corner...thus not being to see each other until the last sec... : ( neither being able to hit the breaks in time as proof of no skid marks.... ;-( I believe judging by how destroys the BMW is I can say the LFA was traveling at a high rat of speed.


      The 67 year old test driver being in old age, his body wasn't able to withstand such a impact and being the LFA is such a low car and much lighter then BMW it took much of the Impact...


      I find it so sad he died in the thing he loved...
      • 4 Years Ago
      it appears no airbag in the LFA.
        • 4 Years Ago
        If you watch the video you'd see that there's a whole bunch of airbag material in the LFA compartment.
      • 4 Years Ago
      My condolences to the family and friends of Naruse.

      It is always a shame to lose such a strong enthusiast and driver.

      • 4 Years Ago
      He died in his pride and joy........ ;-(

      • 4 Years Ago
      holycrap! RIP :(
      my condolences to the family and friends....
      • 4 Years Ago
      That's.... crazy. Condolences to their families and the Toyota family.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I'm wondering if maybe he had a heart attack or stroke and passed out while driving. The fact that he was 67 years old and that the LFA's passenger compartment looks fairly well maintained plus the fact that the other two people are still alive (though badly injured) certainly make that a possibility as well. Plus, it's somewhat unlikely that a really seasoned driver like him would just veer into oncoming traffic.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Two way + blind corner + either car speeding = disaster


        Looking at how the LFA is so close to the edge of the road I believe both cars where traveling on the inside lane coming around the blind corner...thus not being to see each other until the last sec... : ( neither being able to hit the breaks in time as proof of no skid marks.... ;-( I believe judging by how destroyed the BMW is I can say the LFA was traveling at a high rate of speed...I can be wrong tho. If the BMW drivers live to tell what took place.


        The 67 year old test driver being in old age, his body wasn't able to withstand such a impact and being the LFA is such a low car and much lighter then BMW it took much of the Impact...


        I find it so sad he died in the thing he loved...
        • 4 Years Ago
        Consider also that Mr. Naruse was 67 years old. It's also possible that a medical problem unrelated to the car caused him lose control. Although there's little reason to speculate at this point. I have no doubt the German investigators will get to the bottom of it. Deepest condolences to the families of all involved.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Wow, that's a horrible, horrible crash. I hope he died on impact and didn't suffer.


        @miketim:

        It looks like the BMW was in lane and ended up braking wide because the limit of traction means the car must go wide.

        The question is why the BMW got on the ABS. Seeing the Lexus on the wrong side of the road, and hitting the BMW from the inside, it would appear the Lexus started on the inside where it shouldn't have been.


        This is really sad, and ultimately, we probably ought to ban left hand drive globally to prevent these kinds of things happening in the future. That tiny fraction of a second of shock at seeing the other car coming on fast probably had *both* drivers instantly and automatically react to go inside to their "correct" lanes.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Phil P:
        It looks close to head on to me, so it's tough to tell who was on the which side of the road.

        The driver is Japanese, it's possible he forgot for a moment which side to drive on, as they drive on the left in Japan.
        • 4 Years Ago
        On a side note, is that really a hearse at the scene of the crash?! Is that how things work in Germany? I don't mean any offense with this question if anybody is German, it's just that in the U.S. they'd take you to a hospital even if it's really obvious that you're dead. That black vehicle looks an awful lot like a hearse.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @tekdemon: I don't know if it's a hearse per se, but even here in North America, if someone's been pronounced dead at a scene, they may transport them directly to the morgue using a coroner's vehicle, which is usually black, as this vehicle is. So to answer your question, I'd say this is more likely a vehicle from the coroner's office.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yes that is a hearse. In Europe, most countries actually forbid to transport deceased people by ambulance and a hearse is called upon if a victim is called deceased on scene.
        • 4 Years Ago
        *on the front page.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @MK

        While its hard to tell exactly what happened from those limited pictures, my guess is either the suspension on the LFA breaking and pulling him into the oncoming lane, or the driver of the BMW washing out wide exiting the corner forcing the LFA to swerve to the left.

        Either way, the cars were defiantly on the wrong sides of each other when they collided. My condolences to everyone involved
        • 4 Years Ago
        Rest in peace, Mr. Naruse. My condolences to your family...
        • 4 Years Ago
        I don't think anyone could say anything more than that. That about sums it up.

        Though I'd like to know if it was mechanical failure of some sort or driver error.
      • 4 Years Ago
      RIP...always sad to hear these news..
      • 4 Years Ago
      My second thought: How the hell can you tell that the road is a two-way when the divided line is WHITE! WTF!
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yes that is a 2 way lane in Europe
        • 4 Years Ago
        Um, because countries other than the US have different rules for lane colors?
      • 4 Years Ago
      So sorry to hear this. My prayers to the entire family.

      • 4 Years Ago
      A tragic loss...
      • 4 Years Ago
      RIP.

      I'm sure he lived a good life.
    • Load More Comments