The eighth annual North American Concept Vehicle of the Year Awards were announced June 23 at the Automotive Hall of Fame. Organized by the South East Automotive Media Organization, the awards recognize those vehicles most likely to shape the future of the automobile industry. A jury of automotive journalists selected the winners from 23 Concept Vehicles and 11 Production Preview Vehicles that debuted during the 2009 North American Auto Show season. 

A bellwether for the auto industry's second century, Fisker Automotive takes the honor of 2009 Production Preview Vehicle of the Year with its Karma Sunset Concept. According to juror Michael Bettencourt, "A company run by a designer should have beautiful cars, concepts and prototypes. Henrik Fisker's firm certainly does the Fisker Karma Sunset is just drop dead gorgeous." 

Out of the eight competitors in the Concept Car category, Volkswagen made its debut at the awards podium with the open-air Concept BlueSport Roadster, winning the 2009 Concept Car of the Year award. Said juror Ashly Knapp, "Who'd have thought a diesel could be fast, economical and clean while powering the fun, little roust-about Volkswagen BlueSport." 

Showing that small can still be fun and capable in a personal-use truck, Kia Motors makes its first trip to the podium with the beach-ready Soul'ster, taking the 2009 award for Concept Truck of the Year. "The Kia Soul'ster shows the playfulness of the designers from the initial design of the Soul," said juror Lou Ann Hammond. 

More than ever this year, the Specialty Concept category recognizes vehicles where the technology, not necessarily the packaging, is the key story. Bringing GM's Advanced Powertrain Studio its fifth win in this category, the honor of 2009 Specialty Concept Vehicle of the Year goes to the Cadillac Converj. "Cadillac capitalizes on the popularity of coupe styling, but steps up several notches with electric propulsion technology, 2+2 seating, and profile-enhancing wheels on the Converj," said juror Bob Kroupa. 

Amongst the category winners, the Cadillac Converj was the top-scoring vehicle, earning the accolade as the "Most Significant Concept Vehicle of 2009." This marks the fifth time that a GM concept has earned the top spot, backed up with an equally impressive record of 28 category finalists, and 11 category winners. 

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