Because of increasing diesel fuel costs, the German National Railway (Deutsche Reichsbahn or DR) decided to expand the electrical network of the German railways. The Lokomotivbau Elektrotechnische Werke Hans Beimler Henningsdorf (LEW), which was the only manufacturer of electric locomotives in East Germany at the time, got commissioned in 1976 to develop a lightweight version of the heavy Baureihe 250 locomotive. Which the DR intended to use for transporting passengers and goods. The BR 143 was built from 1984 until 1990 for the German Railway Company. Back then it was numbered as 243. A total of 630 of these locomotives were built during that time. Whenever the two German Railway companies (Deutsche Reichsbahn and Deutsche Bundesbahn) joined together as the Deutsche Bahn (or DB) in 1994, all remaining locomotives were given the number 143. Nowadays these models are mainly used for regional transportation and their maximum speed can go up to 120 kph.