• Carmaker lands captive audience •

A new lending arm formed by Volvo could ease the process for customers to secure loans to buy new and used models built by the Swedish automaker.

Volvo Car Corp. launched Rockleigh, N.J.-based Volvo Car Financial Services, which is set to be offering consumer loans and leases as of today, according to an article in Automotive News.

The company is what’s called a “captive” lender because it was set up by the parent Volvo Car and provides financing for its car and SUV customers. Volvo’s preferred financing provider had been retail lender U.S. Bank since December 2009, Automotive News said.

“Customers like to have confidence in the company they’re working with, and they want to know that you’re full service and you can do everything for them,” Chip Ott, a Pennsylvania dealer and chairman of the Volvo Retail Advisory Board, said in the Automotive News article.

The local Volvo store is Volvo of Charleston, located on Savannah Highway west of the Ashley and part of the Hendrick Automotive Group.

• S.C. auto rates stuck in neutral •

Looking to slash your car insurance payment in South Carolina? Then good luck, according to figures in a new national study.

The margin between the lowest annual car rates and the average yearly premium is 23 percent, which beat out just seven states and the District of Columbia (and tied Colorado). The findings are in a new analysis by CarInsurance.com.

The news isn’t quite that gloomy: the Palmetto state already has some of the lowest auto insurance rates, so it isn’t quite so important to find a bargain.

Then again, Foster City, Calif.-based CarInsurance.com did note this: “Car insurance rates in Ohio are among the nation’s lowest, but it’s nonetheless the state where drivers who compare car insurance quotes potentially can save the most money.”

The difference between the highest and lowest price quotes in Ohio was 56 percent.

To develop an “apples to apples” comparison, CarInsurance.com always used as its motorist example a 40-year-old man insuring a 2012 Honda Accord. The online venture reviewed every ZIP code to come up with state and national average annual premiums from six national car insurance companies.

In Ohio, the average premium was $969 and the lowest rate was $424.

“No two insurance carriers have the same way of calculating rates,” CarInsurance.com managing editor Des Toups said.“In some places the difference between the most expensive and least expensive is thousands of dollars — and the rates in our study are for low-risk drivers.”

The South Carolina average premium of $987 ranks ninth lowest in the U.S. Maine has the stingiest premiums at an average $783.

According to CarInsurance.com, the best deal on insurance in South Carolina was $759, a $228 savings or 23 percent. The state where consumers have the comparative worst chance to make a deal is New Jersey, with just a 12 percent savings between its average rate and lowest premium.

CarInsurance.com said the average annual premium from six national carriers in all ZIP codes was $1,277 for a Honda Accord. But the cheapest premiums averaged $870, or 32 percent less, the company said.