Daily News Briefs: July 23, 2012

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Reversing a longstanding trend, U.S. traffic deaths increased in the first quarter of 2012, the Detroit News reports. Fatalities increased 13.5% in the first quarter of 2012, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration figures, with 1.1 deaths per 100 million miles of vehicle travel. That’s up from 0.98 deaths per 100 million miles in the first three months of 2011. NHTSA cautioned, however, that those figures shouldn’t be an indicator for the year overall, as this year’s winter (the fourth warmest on record) had more people driving. Still, the group says vehicle travel increased just 1.4% in the first three months — a much smaller percentage than the overall fatality increase.

In other news:

  • Only about 15% to 20% of Chrysler dealerships will get the redesigned 2013 SRT Viper, SRT chief Ralph Gilles told Automotive News.
  • The Detroit News reports NHTSA opened an investigation into the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV and 2009-10 Dodge Ram 1500 pickup truck over power-steering and rear-differential failures, respectively.
  • The average credit score for a new-car shopper dropped in the first quarter by six points to 760, Experian Automotive told the Detroit News, but loans to people with “less-than-desirable credit” jumped 11.4%. That means shoppers with poor credit are seeing better access.
  • BMW will launch BMW on Demand, a short-term rental service, in greater New York next month with the 3 Series, Automotive News reports. The service follows a more traditional rental-car model than car-sharing programs like Zipcar: You rent cars for days, not hours, from participating dealerships.

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Former Assistant Managing Editor-News Kelsey Mays likes quality, reliability, safety and practicality. But he also likes a fair price. Email Kelsey Mays

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