In the beginning, the program of the standard electric locomotives only provided for a four-axle universal locomotive with a top speed of 125 km/h in addition to the six-axle freight locomotive. However, since it soon became apparent that this could not meet all the requirements, the development was divided into the E 10 express locomotive and the E 40 freight locomotive. The industry was given a free hand during development and only the performances to be achieved were specified. The result was four pre-production machines from different manufacturers. After the subsequent delivery of a fifth engine, testing of the locomotives designated E 100 under everyday conditions began in 1952.
Technically and externally, the E 10 was almost identical to the E 40, however, due to the speed of 150 km/h, it was fitted with a dynamic brake and motors that were temporarily able to withstand higher loads. This made it possible to call up up to 6,000 kW for a short time if required. The Gummiringfederantrieb (“rubber ring spring drive”) by SSW proved to be the best form of power transmission in the test locomotives, and so it was installed in the production machines and later also in almost all other standard electric locomotives. A follow-up control was used to switch the 28 notches, in the last series a load switch with thyristor. Series production started in 1956 and comprised 379 examples of the 150 km/h version, also known as the E 101-3. For a long time they were the flagship for express trains on the DB, even after the introduction of the 103.
In 1962, six locomotives of the current production were equipped with new bogies for 160 km/h, which were to be used in front of the Rheingold. Because they got a 1 in front of the serial number, they became known as E 1012. A further six engines were given a more streamlined body, which led to the nickname “crease” due to the distinctive crease in the front sides. The first six examples were later put back on the original bogies, as they still had the old car body. The normal version also received the crease from the E 10 288. Another 20 examples of the E 1012 were given a modified variant of the original bogies, which could also be approved for 160 km/h.
From 1968 the conventional E 10 were listed as class 110 and the E 1012 as class 112. The last 20 E 1012 were reclassified as class 113 in 1988 because they had different bogies. In 1991, the remaining 112 became the 113 in order to be able to classify the class 212 locomotives that had been added by the GDR Reichsbahn as 112 according to the all-German class scheme. After 2005, some 110 and 113 were handed over to DB AutoZug, forming the class 115 for better differentiation.
After many years under heavy loads, it was eventually necessary to reduce the speed to 140 and sometimes even 120 km/h. At DB AG, the locomotives increasingly came to DB Regio and faced competition from the class 143, which was more modern and all engines had the capability for push-pull-trains. From 2001 the gradual decommissioning of the first series began, but the newer ones were still not dispensable despite their increasing age. In 2014, a locomotive built in 1957 was the oldest one on the railway. They almost completely disappeared from active line service that year. In 2020, the last two locomotives of the class 115 were decommissioned after they had previously only been used for special operations. A total of 20 examples were received, some of which remain operational.