SNDC Launches the “100% French Recharging Station”

The French HVAC specialist is tackling the charging station market with a device designed to replace R134a. Régis Berdoulat, the company’s managing director, claims that it is the “only charging station 100% Made in France”. Whether this is true or not, what is really hiding under the outer shell of this device?

In the automotive industry, SNDC is not known as a manufacturer but as a distributor. The company designs complete air conditioning systems for all kinds of vehicles, except cars. This is why the launch of their new charging station is something of a turning point for the Toulouse company. “For 28 years, we have only been a distributor,” recalls Régis Berdoulat, Managing Director of SNDC and its network of Ecoclim workshops. “Two years ago, we made the decision to develop our own machine using R134a, and by the end of the year, we will also offer one for R1234yf.”

Using the skills of its four engineers and the support of an external team from Blanctailleur, who already specialise in workshop trolleys, SNDC fully designed the AC134 automatic charging unit, which was presented at Equip Auto 2013. “We are used to selling and servicing charging stations of all brands,” explains Régis Berdoulat. We therefore know the devices very well, and we couldn’t find any that fully catered for our target market”, he says.

Measured objectives
Therefore, SNDC “exploited the gap on the market” and “listened to the demands” of its customers to offer a different product. “The main concerns that we heard about were the excessively large dimensions of available stations, which made them difficult to transport, the absence of handles for easier movement, low bottle capacity, etc.”, explains Berdoulat. “That’s why we have included a 20 kg bottle rather than the usual 7-10 kg bottles.” However, SNDC has not made this the cheapest station in the world. With double-stage vacuum pump, Parker solenoid valves (by Parker France, where else?) and Vicat pressure gauge… There are many components that mean that the AC134, EMC approved and CE certified, is not the cheapest on the market. But that was not SNDC’s goal, according to its general manager.

They also had objectives on a commercial level. While SNDC has a design studio and production facilities to help develop and produce this charging station, it “does not have the capacity to flood the market”,” says Berdoulat. “We are aiming for 200 to 300 machines per year once we are up and running, and for 2013 we plan to sell around 50. We already have about ten orders for the month of June. We will deliver and commission these machines ourselves.” And if the sales targets are far below those of market leaders –Texa, Bosch-SPX, Actia-Muller, Valeo – the project has at least managed to bring together the 50 or so people who work for the Toulouse company. “Our parts are often hidden inside vehicles,” says Régis Berdoulat. “However, our tools are visible.” What air conditioning technicians hold in their hands with the brand new AC134 is a little bit of the whole company.

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