April 27, 1904
The Lansden Company, a manufacturer of electric vehicles, was incorporated in New Jersey. The Newark-based company had been launched by John M. Lansden, along with William M. Little, and they focused mainly on such large vehicles as trucks. The Lansden Company soon established itself as a major force in the electric vehicles market in the United States.
A huge proponent of the company was renowned inventor Thomas Alva Edison. The Lansden Company used only storage batteries created by Edison for its vehicles. (Whenever the company found its supply of batteries running low, Edison’s plant in West Orange, New Jersey, ceased manufacturing all other products to concentrate instead on churning out more batteries.) In 1908, Edison even took a controlling interest in the company.
Lansden vehicles were used as ambulances, buses, brewery wagons, and industrial trucks. A few of the company’s more high-profile customers were Wells Fargo, Bellevue Hospital, the New York Public Library System, and rival department stores Macy’s and Gimbels Brothers. In 1910, a Lansden taxicab was introduced. The company also manufactured two-seat roadsters called the Electrette (pictured above).
After a few years of formidable productivity and sales, the Lansden Company ran into rough times. John M. Lansden left his namesake organization in 1911 to work for the General Motors Truck Company and shortly thereafter Edison sold the Lansden Company due to financial difficulties. Over the course of the decade, the company ended up in the hands of a couple of different owners and its operations would be moved to such locations as Allentown, Pennsylvania, and Brooklyn, New York.
In its final incarnation, the Lansden Company was reestablished in Danbury, Connecticut, in 1921. The production of electric vehicles nationwide continued to drop sharply throughout that decade, however, and the once-thriving company ceased to exist altogether sometime around 1928.