How will the cabin change in cars of the future?

We've all seen what cars of the future might look like on the inside thanks to sci-fi movies like Minority Report and iRobot, but how close are these visions to becoming a reality?

A future of touchscreens and voice controls is already here, with some manufacturers replacing their old-fashioned buttons and knobs with sleek touchscreen interfaces. Fleet managers looking to modernise their fleets should be on the lookout for these systems, with new vehicles promising greater standards of usability and connectivity. 

Golf gets 'gesture control'

As a longstanding leader in the small-car market, the Volkswagen Golf has set a standard of excellence for other manufacturers to follow. This looks set to continue, with the next iteration planning to almost completely do away with buttons in favour of touchscreens. 

Eager fleet managers will have to wait however, as the new model will not be ready for sale until the end of 2016. When it does arrive, it is expected to be brought in line with the current trends sweeping the industry, such as smartphone connectivity. 

A snapshot of how the new technology could look was debuted in a recent concept car from the German Manufacturer. The Golf R Touch was on display at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Shanghai. 

"The interior features a preview of future VW interior technologies, with smartphone applications redefined for automotive use," Head of Powertrain Development Dr Heinz-Jakob Neußer told Auto Express on May 25.

"The gesture control will become reality in the Golf at the end of next year." 

What's on offer from other auto makers?

Tesla has continued with its commitment to offer the car of the future as soon as possible. Not only do its vehicles propel themselves without releasing any emissions, they also have interiors that look as though they've been inspired by the Millennium Falcon rather than a Ford Falcon. 

The Model S, for example, is virtually buttonless. Aside from a couple of exceptions on the steering wheel, all functions are controlled by a 17 inch touchscreen that is angled toward the driver. This is intended to provide a system that integrates cabin controls, navigation systems and communication services. 

This is expected to spread to other manufacturers as well, with IMS Research finding that the use of touchscreens in automotive applications is expected to continue to grow. By 2019, the market is expected to grow to 35.7 million units, no doubt changing the design of cabins for years to come.