What have been the greatest innovations in transport in the past 90 years? Nissan in the UK did a quick poll of some 2 000 adults to find out as part of its 90th birthday celebrations.

The opening of the Channel Tunnel, Concorde's first flight and the invention of satnav came out on top, while the electrification of the London Underground, the first modern hovercraft and the first zebra crossing also ranked in the top 30.

The first mass-market electric vehicle secured its place among some of the world's greatest transport innovations - with Nissan, since the company was founded, on December 26, 1933, having established a history of pioneering electric vehicles, performance cars and crossovers.

Nissan Tama

From the 1947 Tama electric vehicle, via the LEAF – the world's first mass-market EV in 2010 – to recently revealed future EV concepts such as the Hyper Punk and Hyper Urban, the company strives for pioneering technology that helps to create a cleaner, safer and more inclusive world.

Looking to the future, the study showed 69% think new technologies will play a big part in reducing the environmental impact of transportation in this country. 

Artificial Intelligence

The survey also revealed 27%t are in favour of introducing artificial intelligence into the car industry, while 29% hold the same views for public transport. 

With artificial intelligence (AI) becoming increasingly commonplace in day-to-day life, Nissan has utilised the technology to bring its 90-year heritage to life by imagining transport scenes that compare the Tama, its first ever electric car in 1947, to the modern-day Ariya EV.

Andrew Humberstone, managing director of Nissan GB, says: "During the last 90 years, we have always dared to do things differently at Nissan and have delivered some truly ground-breaking innovations along the way.”

Nissan Leaf

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The Nissan LEAF featured at number 19 on the list, while EVs specifically were voted as the innovation that holds the most promise for the future of UK sustainability. A third of those polled also believe the motor industry has undergone the most exciting changes over the past nine decades - compared to aviation, rail, and cycling. 

More sustainable road travel (38%), scientific advancement (16%), and employment opportunities (11%) were also seen as the biggest opportunities within the EV industry. 

Seventy percent of those surveyed believe transport innovations have had a positive impact on their own lives, and 54% claim it has made travelling easier for them. 

Staying Connected

Almost three quarters (71%) agree it has improved their ability to travel and commute up and down the country, and staying connected with family and friends has become easier for 30%.  

What is more, 41% of those polled have been able to save time on their journeys, and 43% are able to travel to longer distance locations thanks to the various innovations. 

Electric concepts from Nissan


  1. 1976 - Concorde makes first passenger-carrying supersonic flight

  2. 1957 - First flight of a commercial jet airliner

  3. 1994 - The opening of the channel tunnel

  4. 1958 - First commercial jet airliner

  5. 1981 - Maiden flight of the space shuttle

  6. 1960 - Launch of the first Sat Nav 

  7. 1951 - Creation of power steering

  8. 1988 - First crash bag 

  9. 1934 - Introduction of the Driving Test

  10. 1955 - Creation of the Hovercraft 

  11. 1959 - The first three-point seat belt 

  12. 2022 - First zero-emissions electric flight takes place

  13. 1939 - First practical helicopter built 

  14. 1949 - First zebra crossing 

  15. 1971 - The Lunar Roving vehicle is used on the moon

  16. 1964 - Launch of the Bullet Train

  17. 1939 - Creation of automatic transmission

  18. 1967 - Automatic Train Operation: London Underground

  19. 2010 - Launch of the world's first mass-produced electric car 

  20. 1984 - Driverless Cars

  21. 1953 - First air-conditioning in a car

  22. 2022 - First railway line run by hydrogen-powered trains

  23. 1971 - Anti-lock braking technology first used on a car

  24. 1940 - First electric bus delivered

  25. 2003 - First automatic parking 

  26. 2016 - First hydrogen-powered flight 

  27. 1984 - First car with a CD player

  28. 2001 - First hands-free Bluetooth kit 

  29. 2018 - First driverless trams tested

  30. 1958 - Creation of cruise control 

Colin Windell