Electrolux goes global with first mobile vacuum cleaner

In contrast to the bulky, immobile, vertical vacuum cleaners that had preceded it, the Model V was a truly mobile device that revolutionized domestic chores in the 1920s. One of the first modern vacuum cleaners.

A new sense of domestic freedom

Model Five, the V, which was launched in 1921, was the first vacuum cleaner produced in Electrolux’s own name. It was also the first adapted for a normal home. A significant difference from previous models was that it lay on its side on thin metal runners rather than being vertical. It was also a lot lighter. The weight had been constantly decreased throughout the series. The first model had weighed 14 kilos, Model V was only five kilos. It was therefore far easier to move around the room!

Although relatively expensive by modern standards (215 SEK is 5000 in today’s money), this important luxury would be paid off in instalments and Electrolux salesman were at hand to get the paperwork sorted out.

An off- the-cuff suggestion from Wenner-Gren

Sales were booming for Electrolux in the early 1920s. Adopting the American model, salesmen would travel from door to door with their vacuum cleaners on a cart. After giving a demonstration, they would then clinch a sale with the housewives they visited.


A 1926 image of the Elektrolux Gmbh vacuum cleaner factory in Tempelhof, Berlin which was the first Electrolux factory outside of Sweden

Management were very responsive to the salesforce’s comments. Wennergren was at a meeting with his righthand man, Sven Carlstedt, the company’s technical director, when he heard some grumbles about how difficult it was to move the vacuum cleaner around the home. He grabbed a pencil, added the metal runners and a more flexible tube to the Model V and then asked Sven to make them a reality. Those runners were to be a feature of Electrolux cleaners until the 60s.


Ad brochure from the United Kingdom for the Lux V vacuum

Invaluable in the stables and in the living room

Vacuum cleaner newspaper ads from the 1920s tell the story very well. The Model V came with a series of nozzles which could be used for a variety of tasks. Some ads show men grooming their horse with the V. Others show immaculately dressed, carefree, jazz-age housewives, doing a quick bit of vacuum cleaning before dashing off to a party or the cinema.


Lux V ad brochure from the United Kingdom

Life for the ordinary housewife was probably not so glamorous and jazzy. But now she had the vote and an invaluable appliance which made arduous household chores a lot easier. Life was getting better.