In the 1960s, the progress of electric and diesel traction on the German railways meant that steam-heated trains would soon become impractical. Deutsche Bundesbahn's then-latest road diesel, the V160 a/k/a 216, had however been conceived without a heating-current generator but with a steam boiler. Thus the necessity of developing a V160-based diesel locomotive with a heating generator: the V162, later to be known as the Baureihe (Class) 217. It had a separate 368-kW 'heating diesel' that could either drive the generator, act as a booster in summer or when driving freight trains or even drive the loco on its own.
A total of 15 units were built by Krupp between 1965 and 1968; they were equipped with MTU main diesels and MAN heating diesels. The 217 was never ordered in large numbers because the 218's single-engine design proved more cost-effective.
Technical fact sheet:
- Concept: B'B' layout (four axles in two bogies), both bogies driven by a diesel engine by articulated shafts from a central fluid transmission; when not in use for heating, the auxiliary diesel can also transmit its power to the drivetrain; a mechanical intermediate gearbox to select either a high-traction or a high-speed gear can only be shifted when standing still
- Power: 1,427 kW with the main diesel; 368 kW with just the heating diesel; 1,795 kW with both engines
- Top speed: 140 km/h in high-speed gear (120 km/h for some early models), 100 km/h in high-traction gear
- Total weight: 79 tonnes (19.75 tonnes per axle); some early models: 80 or 81 tonnes (20 or 20.25 tonnes per axle)
- Length: 16.4 m
- Distance between bogies: 8.6 m
- Diameter of driven wheels: 1 m
- Tank volume: 3.15 m3; 2.7 m3, 2.8 m3 or 3.1 m3 for some early models
- Mileage: about 4 l/km
- Number in service: 13 (two units were assigned internal duties and became Baureihe 753)