Toyota's Chief Test Driver Killed In Crash

BERLIN (Kyodo) -- Toyota Motor Corp.'s chief test driver Hiromu Naruse was killed in a head-on road crash in western Germany on Wednesday while driving a prototype supercar, police said Thursday.

Naruse, 67, was testing the Lexus LFA on a public road near the Nurburgring race track, according to the world's largest automaker and the police.

The police said the two passengers of the other car involved in the accident were severely injured. German media reported the two were also test drivers.

After joining Toyota's predecessor in 1963, Naruse played a major role in developing various sport-utility and other models such as the Toyota 2000GT, Celica and MR2.

Naruse was still in the front line of developing cars as a test driver on a contract basis.

Toyota said in a statement that the carmaker was "shocked by the sudden sad news," adding it extends its condolences to Naruse's family.

Toyota President Akio Toyoda said on his blog that "We will follow the trail blazed by Mr. Naruse and produce better cars."