During 1941 Germans troops discovered that their wheeled transport vehicles were unsuitable for the muddy rasputitsa conditions that marked the beginning and end of the Russian winter. Only halftracks were able to operate in these conditions, but removing them from their operational purposes for supply duties would have been unworkable. Instead, Germany began to build half-tracked versions of their Opel, Daimler-Benz and Ford trucks by removing their rear axles and placing new driveshafts connected to Panzer I track assemblies with Carden Lloyd type suspension assemblies. The Panzer I was out of production at this point, and existing track parts could be used for cost effective conversion of the trucks. The Carden Lloyd suspension was similar to that used by the Universal and Bren-gun carriers.
Most conversions were to Opel trucks, which proved successful in service – although they lacked the overall mobility of purpose-built halftracks. From 1943 the Germans equipped some Maultier trucks with armored bodies, designated SdKfz 4. Some of these were armed with 10 tubed rocket launcher Panzerwerfer 42, and were designated SdKfz. 4/1.