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ItalDesign-Giugiaro Clipper found a way to make minivans cool: gullwings

Carmakers often describe their products as “flagships,” but never “clipper ships”.

Until now, that is. Unveiled at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show, the ItalDesign-Giugiaro Clipper is the latest concept car from the legendary Italian design studio, and it is aptly named.

Clippers were once at the center of world commerce, transporting goods and people from one side of the world to the other. They were both large and graceful, which seems like the perfect design brief for a luxury car.

ItalDesign wanted to build a vehicle that could perform a similar mission on land, which is why it built an electric minivan.

The Clipper is based on the Volkswagen MQB platform used for the Golf and Audi A3, which was chosen because it was designed with electric powertrains in mind. Power comes from a pair of 110-kilowatt electric motors (one per axle) and range is estimated at 335 miles per charge.

So the Clipper may sound like a boring car, until the doors open.

There are butterfly doors and the front and gulling doors at the back, which create one giant maw for loading and unloading people and cargo (take that Tesla Model X!) to mention admiring ItalDesign’s radical interior design.

Buttons were completely eliminated in favor of touch screens, including an 11-inch screen mounted on a “mobile tunnel” running down the center of the car. There are also four iPad Minis mounted in the headrests that can be used by passengers in the second and third rows.

The Clipper seats six, and there should be plenty of room thanks to the MQB platform’s flat floor. The seats can also fold down, presumably in case the driver wants to transport another car in this one.

Like most of ItalDesign’s projects, the Clipper is destined to remain a concept. Yet it shows that even the dullest cars can be made interesting and exciting. All it takes is the right inspiration.