Electrolux Vacuum Cleaner History

by Bob 2. September 2010 14:50

Electrolux History

The origins of the Electrolux vacuum cleaner can be traced back to the introduction of the vacuum cleaner, the invention of the absorption refrigerator and a marketing genius named Axel Wenner-Gren.

Legend has it that Mr Wenner-Gren saw an unwieldy Santo vacuum cleaner in Vienna and went to work for them. When he had learnt enough, he went home to Stockholm, worked on his idea with colleagues and staff and presented the Lux 1, the world's first household vacuum cleaner in 1912. 

In 1925 the first Electrolux absorption refrigerator was launched and Electrolux started in its quest to be the largest household appliance producer in the world.


AB Lux, Stockholm, is established. The company launches the Lux lamp - a kerosene lamp for outdoor use - which proves to be a tremendous sales success. The lamp is also used in lighthouses all over the world. 




Lux moves to a plant at Lilla Essingen in Stockholm. The company feels the competition from electric lighting and looks for new products. 


Elektromekaniska is established in Stockholm. 


Collaboration between Lux and Axel Wenner-Gren begins. The first vacuum cleaner, the Lux 1, is produced at Lilla Essingen. Axel Wenner-Gren becomes the agent for Lux in Germany, United Kingdom and France. 

Home sales begin in Sweden. The salesmen, who pull the heavy machines through the streets on hand-carts, must arrange a demonstration time when the housewife can promise that her husband/breadwinner will be home to approve the investment. 


Axel Wenner-Gren sets up the sales company Svenska Elektron (later Finans AB Svetro). The method of home demonstration and hire purchase becomes increasingly well-established and proves a great success. 


On October 30, 1917, Elektron (In which Axel Wenner.Gren owns a large interest) purchases all the shares of Elektromekaniska. Wenner-Gren is elected member of the board of Elektromekaniska and likewise, Sven Carlstedt joins the board of Elektron.


Elektron and Lux sign a cooperative agreement for the following:

  • Lux is to take over operations of Svenska Elektron, increasing its share capital from SEK 3 million to SEK 4 million.
  • Svenska Elektron, which had previously bought Elektromekaniska, is to buy 49% of the shares of AB Lux. Wenner-Gren and Carlstedt are elected to the board of Lux. Wenner-Gren is appointed CEO and Carlstedt is appointed technical director.


On August 1, an agreement is reached between AB Lux and Svenska Elektron AB (in which Wenner-Gren is the dominating owner) giving Elektron the sole sales rights to AB Lux vacuum cleaners. The agreement, which is valid through 1929, obligates Elektron to buy its vacuum cleaners from Lux and show Lux the manufacturer on all the vacuum cleaners. 

At the Annual General Meeting on August 29, Elektromekaniska AB (wholly owned by Wenner-Gren-dominated Elektron) changes its name to AB Electrolux. The new name is a combination of Elektromekaniska and Lux. 


Model V is launched. It is regarded as the first step towards an easy to use vacuum cleaner for ordinary homes. Pay extra close attention to the runners - an invention by Mr Wenner-Gren himself. They were in use on Electrolux machines well in to the 1960's. 


Swedish engineering students, Baltzar von Platen and Carl Munters, from the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, present a sensational invention - a machine that produces cold through heat using a new and brilliant application of the absorption process. The machine can be driven by electricity, gas or kerosene. 


The production of refrigerators based on Platen-Munter's invention begins at a newly formed company, AB Arctic. 


Electrolux purchases Arctic and launches the first absorption refrigerator, the ''D-fridge'' on the world market. For many people ''this wonderful box'' solves the problem of storing fresh food at home. 


The first plant for the production of vacuum cleaners outside Sweden is opened in Berlin, Tempelhof. Axel Wenner-Gren acquires Volta from Skandinaviska Banken. Axel Wenner-Gren becomes chairman of the board. 


Electrolux builds vacuum cleaner plants in Luton, England and Courbevoie, France. These plants are eventually equipped for the production of refrigerators. Production begins in a number of countries all over the world.


The share capital in Electrolux is increased ten-fold from six million Swedish kronor to 60 million. The turnover at five plants, some twenty subsidiaries and 250 offices throughout the world is SEK 70 million.

The Group is consolidated and introduced on the London Stock Exchange (1930 on the Stockholm Stock Exchange). 


The first built-in refrigerator is launched, a compact product for the kitchenette in the small, modern apartments of the time. Harry G Faulkner is appointed president. 


Vacuum cleaner production begins in Old Greenwich, Connecticut, USA. The first air-cooled refrigerator is produced. Electrolux presents L1, the first air-cold refrigerator. 


Electrolux acquires Volta from Axel Wenner-Gren. The Group now has an alternative to the home sale of vacuum cleaners and thereby greater market coverage. 


Production of vacuum cleaners begins in Australia. 


Streamed products are modern. Of the vacuum cleaners of this decade, the Z30, also nicknamed ''the Loaf,'' keeps pace with the trend. 


Axel Venner-Gren resigns from all his Swedish commitments and moves to the Bahamas. He is succeeded as Chairman of the Board by Axel F. Enström. 


World War II paralyzes many Electrolux plants and subsidiary companies. The Group reorganizes some of its production for employment reasons and produces air filters for the Swedish defense forces. 

At the Motala plant, the reduction in refrigerator production has been compensated by the production of steel fittings. The manufacture of vacuum cleaners begins in New Zealand. 

A new product is launched, the ''Assistent'' food processor. It is to become one of the Group's biggest sellers in the succeeding years 


Electrolux purchases Bohus Mekaniska Verkstads AB in Gothenburg. The Group thereby makes an important breakthrough in a new product area - industrial washing machines. 

Penta - a producer of outboard engines, is purchased. Electrolux already owns the producer Archimedes (both companies were sold to Monark-Crescent in 1965). 


There is a great demand for small electrical motors. Until now, Electrolux has produced them at Lilla Essingen alongside vacuum cleaners. Production now moves to a new plant in Västervik.

In Germany, operations begin again after the war. Refrigerators are produced in Berlin and vacuum cleaners in Wilhelmshafen.

Sigurd Nauchoff becomes Chairman of the Board. 


Electrolux begins producing vacuum cleaners and floor polishers in São Paolo, Brazil.


The first household washing machine is introduced. Production of steel shelving moves from Motala to Säffle, the foundations of what will later become Electrolux Constructor. Vacuum cleaner production begins in Oslo, Norway.

Elon V. Ekman is appointed president.



The production of washing machines is transferred from Gothenburg to Västervik. 


The production of floor polishers and refrigerators begins in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Electrolux shares are listed on the Geneva Stock Exchange. 


The first chest freezer is launched-big news in food storage. Axel Wenner-Gren sells his Electrolux shares to the Wallenberg Group. Group sales pass the half billion kronor mark. 


The spelling of the Group's name is changed throughout the world from Elektrolux to Electrolux.


The Group successfully exports caravan refrigerators to the USA - but the big rush takes place in 1960s. 


The first dishwasher designed by Electrolux is a benchtop model, the extremely popular ''round jar.'' The first combined fridge/freezer is produced in the town of Motala, Sweden. 


ElektroHelios is acquired for SEK 36 million. This company, which was set up in 1919, has 2,500 employees. The merger gives Electrolux new and important production units in Mariestad (compressor refrigerators) and Alingsås (food service equipment), among other things. Through the purchase, Electrolux acquires an extremely important product group: cookers. The capacity of the central laboratory at Lilla Essingen is almost doubled. 

The new Electrolux logo is launched. 


Luxomatic is the first of a new generation of vacuum cleaners with features such as a cord winder, self-sealing paper dust bags and a dust indicator that shows when the bag is full. It also becomes a symbol of the strength – and economic strength in particular – of the Electrolux Group and its vacuum cleaner division.


The Group's turnover passes the billion kronor mark. The long economic boom continues for the remainder of the year. A decision is made to build a cooker plant in Motala. The sale of absorption refrigerators rockets.


Hans Werthén becomes president. The restructuring of the divided Western European white-goods industry begins.

Electrolux takes the initiative on changes in Scandinavia. The company purchases Norwegian Elektra (cookers), Danish Atlas (refrigerators) followed by Finnish Slev (cookers, sauna units). Vacuum cleaner production moves from Stockholm to Västervik.


The minority interest (39%) in Electrolux Corp., USA, is sold to Consolidated Food for almost SEK 300 million. This deal gives Electrolux the key to future expansion.

Cooker production in Sweden is concentrated in Motala and refrigerator production in Mariestad. The lawn mower company, Flymo, with a base in both Sweden and England, is purchased as well as 50% of the cleaning company ASAB.

The Group's head office is moved from the city of Stockholm to the factory premises at Lilla Essingen.


Electrolux's first subsidiary in the USA, Domestic Sales Corp (absorption refrigerators) is set up. Subsidiaries are established in Hong Kong to sell the Group products in the Far East.

A large scale face lift takes place for the Electrolux range. The environment begins to occupy a central position in public debates. 


The commercial cleaning service is established as a result of new company acquisitions. A face-lift for white goods takes place. There is a trend towards new colors. Caravan refrigerators (absorption) are booming on the US market.


The office machinery company Facit is acquired - a purchase outside the principal business sphere of Electrolux. The deal brings with it the production of kitchen and bathroom cabinets (Ballingslöv).

The upswing for the absorption refrigerator technique accelerates. The Group purchases manufacturers in Luxembourg and Germany (Kreft, Siegas) to meet the demand on the European market. 


It has long been clear that a powerful foothold in the US household appliance market is essential. The vacuum cleaner producer NUE - National Union Electric/Eureka - is acquired (today the Eureka Company). This deal makes Electrolux the world's number one producer of vacuum cleaners. It also boosts the Group's air conditioning technology research and know-how resources. 

White goods are marketed under the brand names of Enviromental cooker de Luxe, Future Line and Superstar Electronic. 

The commitment to nature conservation products, vacuum systems for the transport and cleaning of waste water continues. The ORWAK waste compressor is launched. 


A number of small acquisitions in sectors such as laundry-service, materials handling and agricultural machinery take place.


Electrolux moves into the French market. The white-goods manufacturer Arthur Martin and the vacuum cleaner company Tornado are acquired. These deals include Nestor Martin of Belgium and Menalux of Switzerland. The purchase of Tornado also includes a subsidiary in Holland. The acquisition of vacuum cleaner companies in the USA and France strengthens the Group's position in the floor care market. 


The Electrolux Swedish household appliance sector is strengthened by the acquisition of Husqvarna. The deal also brings an entirely new addition to the product range - chainsaws. This - in turn - initiates new purchases in the same industry, Partner in the same year and Jonsered and Pioneer in 1979. The white-goods company Therma of Switzerland is acquired. 


Electrolux enters the US white goods market through the acquisition of Tappan, in Mansfield, Ohio, a manufacturer of household appliances and cookers. 


Electrolux makes an important acquisition. The metal conglomerate Gränges is purchased (mines, steel works, aluminum and copper, vehicle safety belts) for SEK 725 million. The Group's total turnover is almost SEK 23 billion, an increase of 51% compared with the preceding year. 


Vacuum cleaner capacity is extended still further through the acquisition of the French company, Paris-Rhône, and the German company, Progress.


The acquisition of the Italian company Zanussi (founded 1916) including its subsidiaries in Spain, makes Electrolux the unquestioned leader in the European market for household appliances. 

The Zanussi purchase also makes the Group number one in food service equipment. Sales expansion in the Far East including Oceania: SEK 2 billion.


The white goods sector range of washing machines and tumble driers, and air conditioning is extended through the purchase of Zanker in Germany and Duo-Therm in the USA.


The third largest white goods company in the USA, White Consolidated Inc., is acquired with brands such as Frigidaire, Gibson, Kelvinator and White Westinghouse.

The Outdoor Products business area expands following new acquisitions including the US company, Poulan/Weed Eater. The metal recycling company, Gotthard Nilson, is purchased. The Group's total annual sales are SEK 53 billion.


Electrolux purchases the first white goods division of the British company, Thorn-EMI, with brands such as Tricity, Stott Benham and Parkinson Cowan. White goods are also strengthened by the purchase of Corbéro and Domar, Spain's leading companies in this sector.


The outdoor products business is reinforced through the purchase of American Yard Products (Yardpro). The Spanish market grows in importance. The refrigerator compressor producer Unidad Hermética is acquired. Safety belt operations are expanded in Europe.


The Group's leading position in Europe is reinforced by the acquisition of the German Buderus Group's manufacturing operations of white goods and food service equipment, including industrial washing machines. 

An agreement is signed with Sharp Corporation on the sale of Electrolux white goods on the Japanese market. Iron ore mining with the Lamco company, Liberia (previously owned by Gränges) ceases. The Group winds up its operation in the sterilization and disinfection sectors. 


Outdoor products extends its range by acquiring the US company, Allegretti & Co., which manufactures products such as battery-driven garden tools. 


The Hungarian white-goods company Lehel is acquired. The ''Low-Energy Refrigerator'' is launched. It halves energy consumption for the user. Robotic vacuum cleaners from the US company, Kent, for commercial use in hospitals, airports, etc., are introduced on the US market. Electrolux sells most of the commercial service business area.

Hans Werthén resigns as Chairman of the Board. The new chairman and CEO: Anders Scharp. Leif Johansson is appointed president. 


Electrolux buys 10% of AEG's household appliances division with an option on a further 10%. The Group publishes its environmental policy. Fifty-fifty joint venture with Raufoss Plastal Components.


Totally CFC-free refrigerators are launched. Gotthard Nilson succeeds in completely recycling a refrigerator in a closed system. Acquisition of further 10% of AEG's appliances division takes place, and opening of negotiations to take over remaining shares. Group sales exceed SEK 100 billion.


The Electrolux Group celebrates its 75th anniversary.


Electrolux strengthens its position on the South American market by acquiring the second-largest white goods manufacturer in Brazil, Refripar, which later becomes Electrolux do Brasil. 


The Group begins a two-year restructuring program with the purpose of improving profitability. Streamlining of Group operations begins, with the divestment of the industrial products sector and production of sewing machines, agricultural implements and interior decoration equipment. Michael Treschow is appointed president and CEO. 


The Group continues restructuring, with divestment of operations in recycling, kitchen and bathroom cabinets, professional cleaning equipment and heavy-duty laundry equipment.

A new brand policy is adopted to focus resources on a smaller number of large and well-defined brands. The core business now comprises Household Appliances, Professional Appliances and Outdoor Products.


The restructuring program that was started in 1997 is essentially completed. It has involved personnel cutbacks totalling about 11,000 and the shutdown of 23 plants and 50 warehouses. Streamlining of the Group continues with the divestment of operations in food and beverage vending machines, and the major part of the direct sales operation. An agreement is also reached for the divestment of professional refrigeration equipment.

An agreement is signed with Toshiba of Japan for cooperation in household appliances. The Group also forms a jointly owned company with Ericsson that develops products and services for the networked home.


The Group buys back the rights to the Electrolux brand in North America, which was sold in 1968.

The Group reaches an agreement for acquisition of Email Ltd., Australia's largest appliance company. Hence, Electrolux becomes market leader in Australia.


Electrolux puts the first self-going vacuum cleaner on the market – the Trilobite. It navigates using ultrasound and turns itself off and recharges when the vacuuming is finished. 


Hans Stråberg is appointed president and CEO. 


Electrolux-branded floor-care products are introduced in US.

Group purchasing increases from low-cost countries. Double-branding is initiated with local brands in a number of countries.

All market communication for Electrolux-branded consumer products in Europe, North America and most of Asia is assigned to a single advertising agency.

The Electrolux Design Lab is established as an annual competition for design students from around the world, with the challenge of meeting the needs of tomorrow’s consumers.


The first Electrolux Ergorapido is launched. It is developed after observations of a new cleaning behavior – cleaning limited spaces after use instead of large spaces on a regular basis. A second generation is released in 2007.

Electrolux-branded appliances are introduced in North America. The first products belong to the high-price range Electrolux ICON™.


Electrolux Favorit (dishwasher), Electrolux CaFamosa (espresso machine), Electrolux Wine Keeper, Electrolux Oxy3system (vacuum cleaner) and Electrolux Ergorapido 2-in-1 (instant vacuum cleaner) wins “red dot” design awards at the 50th edition of the red dot design award competition.


The Electrolux board decides to spin off Electrolux Outdoor to its shareholders and the shares are listed on the Stockholm Stock Exchange. The name of the new company is Husqvarna AB.
Electrolux introduces the Iron Aid Dryer – the first steam tumble dryer on the market. 


Electrolux receives the prestigious Sustainable Energy Award in Corporate Commitment Category from the European Commission. The award recognizes the Group's ongoing efforts to reduce energy consumption of products, factories and services, further manifested in the decision this year to cut energy use across all the factories by 15% by 2009.

The Ultrasilencer Green vacuum cleaner is launched. It uses 33% less energy, is made with 55% recycled plastic, and consumes 90% less energy during manufacturing. 


Electrolux is presented the Globe Award 2008 by HRH The Crown Princess of Sweden. The Globe Forum Business Network, a hub for sustainable growth for fast-growing markets, commends Electrolux for best integration and transparency of corporate social responsibility in business operation and reporting.

The Inspiro oven is launched. It detects properties of the contents and automatically preselects what it determines is the best heating mode.

The launch in the North American market continues. With the largest marketing campaign in the Group’s history, the new premium appliance line is launched in USA.

The Princess Elisabeth station – the world’s first zero emissions polar station – is opened on Antarctica. Electrolux supports the station with energy-efficient appliances that are powered by wind turbines and solar panels.

In a survey by Report Watch – the only one ranking annual reports on a global basis – The Electrolux Annual Report for 2007 ranks number one among 500 international listed companies. In the Annual Report, released in March 2008, Electrolux reports to have 56 898 employees, annual sales of SEK 105 billion, 40 million sold products and presence in 150 markets. 


For 90 years Electrolux have been thinking of the consumers, listening to their wants and dreams. We focus on innovations that are thoughtfully designed, based on extensive consumer insights, to meet the real needs of consumers and professionals. For the future to come this remains our guiding principle. Today, we know that people want flexibility, convenience, sustainability and beautiful design in their homes and lives. That is why we focus on innovating, developing and providing products that meet this.


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