The Wall Street Journal: Old-economy industrials like 3M and DowDuPont are hitching rides with ride-hailing and self-driving trends

Automobile makers and popular ride-hailing apps aren’t the only companies looking to cash in on the shift to electric and self-driving vehicles. Old-line industrial companies outside Detroit and Silicon Valley are, too.

‘We are in a 10-15 year period of transition that has never before been seen in this kind of industry.’

Mark Boyadjis, IHS

Manufacturing giant 3M Co. MMM, +0.10%   , which makes Post-It notes and thousands of other products, and paint maker PPG Industries Inc. PPG, -0.08% are among the manufacturers racing to figure out ways to get their adhesives, coatings and other products into the cars of the future. They are vying to supply components for the large batteries, sensors to avoid crashes and interior touch-screen panels expected to aid tomorrow’s drivers.

See: Autonomous driving is coming, and these six stocks could be enormous winners

“It’s a long-term investment,” said Randy Stone, president of DowDuPont Inc.’s DWDP, -0.22% transportation and advanced polymers division, whose focus includes products for the automotive industry. “You’re not going to get a huge payback in the next 36 months.”

Research firm IHS Markit projects that the overall market for cockpit electronics; crash-avoidance and automation systems; and components for electric, hybrid and fuel-cell powered vehicles will nearly triple to $183 billion by 2022.

There are risks to these industrial companies’ strategies. Predictions of how cars will evolve could take longer than expected or never materialize. Internal combustion engines still rule the road. Few jurisdictions allow autonomous cars on public roads. And car ownership rates could decline as riders ditch their own cars in favor of car-sharing apps such as Uber or Lyft or mass transit.

An expanded version of this report appears at WSJ.com.

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