KraussMaffei was formed in 1931 from a merger of the two Munich firms of Maffei (founded 1838) and Krauss & Co. (founded 1860). Both belonged to the leading German makers of locomotives of various types. Maffei also built other steam-operated vehicles and, later, manufactured vehicles with combustion engines, including locomotives, trolleybuses and buses until the 1950s. The headquarters of the firm remained in Munich.

KrausMaffei had produced injection moulding equipment since 1957. In 1964 the company Eckert & Ziegler GmbH was taken over.

In the 1960s, KraussMaffei built several examples of the ML 4000 C′C′ diesel-hydraulic locomotive for demonstration and testing on American railroads. Southern Pacific and Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad participated in the tests, but both found the locomotives unsuitable for service in the rugged Rocky Mountains through which the two railroads ran.

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