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David Hermance, Toyota’s Top US Alt-Fuels Executive, Dies in Plane Crash

David Hermance.

Automotive News. David W. Hermance, Toyota’s executive engineer for advanced technology vehicles, died Saturday when the single-engine plane he was piloting crashed into the Pacific Ocean.

The Federal Aviation Administration reported Hermance’s plane to be an Interavia E-3, which took off from Long Beach Airport with only Hermance on board. The plane crashed at about 1:20 pm about 400 yards offshore. A spokesman for the Los Angeles County Fire Department said that Hermance died on impact.

Hermance, 59, was Toyota’s top American executive for alternative-fuel vehicles and emissions technologies in North America. He was also a pilot who enjoyed aerobatics competition, according to the report by Automotive News.

Hermance was a frequent competitor in International Aerobatics Club competitions. The Interavia E-3 is specially designed to perform elaborate stunts at high speeds. Hermance often flew off the San Pedro coast to practice aerobatics maneuvers, which included loops, spirals and stalls.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the FAA classified the plane, which is designed for aerobatics, as experimental, meaning that it was assembled by amateurs or from a kit, or was a light-sport aircraft that hadn’t received a US or foreign airworthiness certificate.

The FAA has a total of five E-3 models registered.

Hermance, who started his career at GM, joined Toyota in 1991 as Senior Manager in Engine Evaluation, with responsibility for evaluating North American passenger car engines.



This is really sad for all of us.

If you are an Adrenaline junky, there are a lot safer ways of getting your fix that experimental stunt planes.

Jack Rosebro

Dave Hermance was an enthusiatic supporter of green vehicles, and - despite a hectic schedule - very generous with his time. While he sometimes took flak for defending Toyota's position on PHEVs, he had great hopes for the technology, along with an almost impish expectation of that which is yet to come.


If this is the same story I heard about, an eyewitness said that there was a safety parashoot that did not deploy properly. This should give ultralight pilots with those parashoots a pause for thought.

Felix Kramer

Jack Rosebro said it well. Dave was a thoughtful, open and generous person, dedicated to his work and his ideals. He was serious and funny -- I didn't know until today about his life as a pilot. We will all miss him and honor his memory in what we do.

steve fambro

How truly sad. May God comfort his family.

beeri moalem

Here's something for the conspiracy theorists out there:

What if the oil companies / big3 sabotaged his airplane?

Would you put it past them?

George K

I am very sad for the loss of Dave Hermance. I always looked forward to hearing his opinions and read them over and over whenever he was quoted. He was very respected in his field, and will be missed by many people. My condolences to his family and friends.


Dave was indeed a good guy. I didn't know him well, but he was a smart engineer, as well as a nice, down-to-earth person. Not really the typical auto company exec.

fyi CO2

May Mr. Hermance's HEV legacy live on!

Roger Pham

You've brought up a beeri good point!
I hope that Toyota has enough resources to hire private investigation to work alongside with NTSB investigators to check for signs of foul play. After what happened to the ex-KGB officer who died from radiation poisoning, and other deaths associated with Putin taking over of Yucos oil company, corporate sabotage is certainly possible. The same motive that Chevron would not license their NiMh patent for production of battery for PHEV.

Gerald Crouse

It is a sad day for me to learn of Dave's death. I was a coworker and friend of Dave's, when he worked at General Motors Proving Ground Vehicle Emission Lab. He was a young engineer when I first met him, but his tallent was obvious. I was proud to work with him, and shared his interest in aviation.

I have often regretted not accepting his offer to join him at Toyota. Dave was a genuine, idealistic and caring person. I will miss him, even tho we have not had much contact since he left GM and Michigan.

I express my condolences to his family. You can be proud of Dave, people don't come any better !


Bright mind and personality of David Hermance will be missed. Very sad loss endeed.


Chevron/ECD 50/50 joint venture Cobasys holds patent rights for NiMh battery use in hybrid (and PHEV) vehicles only in US. They sell licensing rights for moderate royalty for everybody, but amount of royalty depends on specific application and market. So far, there were no fools to pay hard cash for battery inherently unsuitable for PHEV applications.

Don Francis

A sad day for the electric drive community. Although Dave and I did not often agree on battery electric vehicle viability, he was a friend. We got to know each other during college at General Motors Institute in the late 60's and later worked together at the GM Proving Ground. I will miss our discussions and his frank options.


Yes, I do not believe in "coincidence theories", "unhappy chance theories", "bad luck theories" and "naive children theories". The sad history of suppressed innovation on this planet spanning back over 100 years to the late 19th century leaves only one conclusion to those who have researched and seen the evidence: a criminal conspiracy of global reach to suppress anything that threatens fossil fuels and the poison of nuclear power.

I have spent the last 11 years researching this and I know what I am talking about. I stopped flying myself because it is too easy to accident people that way.

Hundreds, literally hundreds of life enhancing technologies suppressed by any means necessary.

Why? Because Some Like it Hot.

David Hermance - I know your spirit lives on because we are Immortal Beings of Light.

I raise an empty glass in your honour.


Dave Hermance was a principled, caring, funny, SMART person with a wealth of knowledge. I love the posted picture of him -- how many executives, in any industry -- actually look like they are laughing with you? His loss is our loss, on so many levels -- a loss to the green community and a loss to the greater community of a civil, gracious and good man.

I'll miss him.

Neil Hermance

Dave was my nephew. I have not had much personal contact with him since his move to California. His Dad,my brother Keith, was also an engineering genius. He loved his work at General Motors and like Dave passed away at the early age of 54.
Dave got his love of flying from his Dad. Keith was for a short time , the youngest flight instructor in the U.S. He passed his FAA certification on his 18th birthday.
Dave we will miss you and your genius

Joyce Bougher

My deepest sympathy to Mary, Kathy and Keith at this difficult time. Words cannot take away the deep pain and sorrow that you are feeling, if there were I would use them. In the short time that I knew Dave, I know how much he loved his family and how much they meant everything in the world to him and in return anyone who knew the family, knew that they loved Dave as much in return. Mary, Kathy and Keith all have the kind, caring heart and soul that Dave has. Dave had such a kind heart enjoyed life and every endeavor in life. He will live on in your hearts so he will always be close to you. Dave will be greatly missed by any and all who knew him. The best tribute to Dave,is to try to be the kind hearted, caring person that he was, regardless of who you meet in life and show them how much you mean to them. Never be afraid to tell someone how much they mean to you. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

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