3M technology is front and center in move toward electric and autonomous cars

3M’s prowess in the auto world is accelerating.

For years, it was mainly known for utilitarian contributions: reflective license plates and road signs; windshield shade films; paint tape; and the glue that kept the felt on car ceilings and the wood veneer on consoles.

Craving more — and seeing an automotive industry in the throes of a huge transformation — 3M dispatched its electrical and safety engineers, designers and marketers to auto firms worldwide.

The result is a growing role working with companies such as BMW and General Motors on electrification and automation, and with transportation departments on how to prepare for the future of driverless or highly automated vehicles.