No one knows what cars will look like in the future, but there's little doubt that the automotive world is on the cusp of momentous change. BMW decided that it wants a bit of outside help, and set up a design contest through the Local Motors online auto enthusiast community.

Local Motors will be accepting design submissions between Sept. 25 and Oct. 16, and will award $30,000 in prize money to contest winners. The victors will be flown to BMW's Munich headquarters to meet the managing director of BMW Group Research and Technology.

It will be interesting to see what sort of innovations this contest unearths. Perhaps this will be the wave of the future for automotive design as well: Instead of paying engineers staff salaries to sit around and contemplate the cars of the future, they can save money by using salaried engineers to flesh out ideas brought by fresh, prize money-paid (i.e. much less expensive) outsiders.

It would be cool if, in addition to prize money, they offered contest winners new BMWs. But we're thinking like Jalops. We're the kind of people who can be paid in cars.