LAS VEGAS – You’re checking out the interior of a new car. The console is high-tech and looks great, the leather seats are stylish. You turn around to check out the back seat. It looks roomy. You reach out to see how the leather on the steering wheel feels and grab … nothing. That’s because you’re sitting in a virtual vehicle.

Virtual-showroom technology is in its infancy, but companies are betting it will revolutionize the vehicle-shopping experience. They haven’t exactly figured out how the virtual showroom and the traditional dealership will interact, but they are confident it is the future of auto retailing.

“Dealers are trying to shorten the buying cycle and take it online,” Tej Soni, president of Izmo, tells WardsAuto. “We are part of this discovery.”

San Francisco-based Izmo started out providing the 360-degree vehicle spins you find on manufacturers’ websites, and moving into the virtual showroom was a natural progression, Soni says.

Interest in its virtual-reality technology, which includes allowing virtual test drives, has come mostly from manufacturers and agencies, he says. It isn’t working with dealerships yet. “It is totally new,” says Soni. “We don’t know how usage will emerge.”

But Izmo sees it as the perfect way to deliver content on future models to, say a customer waiting in the service area, says David Vespremi, Izmo’s director of marketing.

“This is designed to reveal aspects of the car that might now be obvious,” he says. “It delivers insights beneath the skin.”