More on Ford After the Mulally Regime (F, GM)

If there is one chief executive who deserves significant accolades in the U.S. auto sector, it is Alan Mulally of Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F). Now the public is going to have to get used to the notion of a Ford not being run by Mr. Mulally in the not-so-distant future.

Reports have been out that the board is now considering its replacements for the great CEO. The good news for Ford investors is that this may not take place until late in 2013. The bad news is that if you look at the body language that Mulally has telegraphed, and if you look at the comments from the company, a Mulally departure in the relatively near future seems all but certain. Reports last week showed that Ford might even consider keeping Mulally on as a nonexecutive chairman.

Mulally is set to give the opening keynote speech at the 2013 Automotive New World Congress in January, so chances are high that he won’t be taking his retirement cruise before then. He will appear on CNBC today around 1:00 p.m. this Monday, so we will be looking for any further clues on the succession.

General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) did end up in bankruptcy, while Ford escaped that. Ford also took no government bailout money, while GM did. Mulally’s efforts to work with labor and his efforts to bolster the balance sheet are credited for that feat.

Mark Fields has been speculated on as one possible successor, but there may be quite some time before investors know who the formal replacement will be.