The SdKfz 4 was essentially an armored version of the earlier SdKfz 3, which was created by converting existing truck chassis into half-track transport vehicles. The SdKfz 4 was created by stripping down and refitting a 4.5 ton Mercedes-Benz L4500 truck with armor plate, and replacing the rear axle with a Horstmann suspension and the track assembly of a Panzer II light tank. The SdKfz 4 measured 6 meters long, 2.2 meters wide and 2.5 meters high, and weighed 7,100 kilograms. It had a maximum of 8 mm of armor plate, and required a crew of four to fully operate. The SdKfz 4 could carry passengers or cargo in the rear compartment, and was armed with a single 7.92 mm MG 34 or MG 42 machine gun, for which 2,000 rounds of ammunition was carried. The machine gun had a traverse of 270°, an elevation of 80°, and a depression of 12°. Due to the added weight of the armor plate and the use of only a 6-cylinder engine, the maximum speed was limited to 40 km/h, and the maximum range 130 kilometers.
The SdKfz 4 was developed in late 1941 to early 1942, following the development of the SdKfz 3. While the SdKfz 3 was successful as a transport vehicle, an armored counterpart was required to yield some form of protection for the crew and passengers. The SdKfz 4 was mainly converted from Mercedes-Benz L4500 trucks in 1942. Büssing-NAG were too planning to convert some of their own L4500 and G31 trucks, but never proceeded. By 1944, some 22,500 half-tracks of Maultier design had been produced, 1,480 of which SdKfz 4s, which remained in service until 1945.