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The North American Concept Vehicle of the Year (NACVOTY) Awards recognize those concept vehicles that have made the strongest impact in terms of automotive design, engineering and market responsiveness. The awards are given to the best Production Preview Vehicle, Concept Car, Concept Truck/SUV, Specialty Concept, and Most Significant Concept Vehicle of each auto show season. To be eligible for the awards, a concept vehicle must make its North American debut during the current model year’s auto show season.

With the exception of those vehicles in the Production Preview category, qualified nominees must represent an advanced design and/or engineering concept, rather than being a show version of a current production model. Again, with the exception of the Production Preview category, the concept vehicles must not be intended or announced for production prior to the award ceremony.

The Production Preview category recognizes those vehicles based on a model that has already been announced or planned for production. The Concept Car segment is for those vehicles primarily intended for carrying passengers. The Concept Truck/SUV segment is for those vehicles where the user-configurable cargo volume and weight capacity are among the vehicle's primary attributes. The Specialty Concept segment is for those vehicles that are outside the normal definition of car or truck, those vehicles where the actual package is incidental to the materials or technology being featured, and other special-purpose vehicles.

From among the winning vehicles in these categories, the vehicle with the highest total score is named the Most Significant Concept Vehicle of the Year.