The chief test driver for the Lexus LF-A sports car died in a crash on a public road near the Nürburgring where a prototype of a special Nürburgring edition of the car has been undergoing testing, according to sources in Germany.
The 67-year-old Japanese test driver apparently collided with a test car driven by two BMW test drivers outside Nürburgring on Wednesday. The BMW drivers were injured but were expected to survive.
“We are surprised by the sudden sad news,” Mieko Iwasaki, a Tokyo-based spokeswoman for Toyota, told Bloomberg News. “We express our heartfelt sympathy to people who were in the accident.” Iwasaki declined to comment on the details of the accident pending an investigation.
Naruse joined Toyota in 1963 and was involved in developing sports cars including the 2000GT and Lexus LFA, according to a New York Times report.
The LF-A supercar was revealed in production trim at the 2009 Tokyo motor show and is expected to go into production late this year as a 2012 model.
The company plans to build just 500 copies of the $375,000 cars over a 24-month period. The $70,000 Nürburgring option will be offered on 50 cars, featuring a 562-hp version of the car's 4.8-liter V10 and other exclusive features.