It's not yet official, but the announcement is expected to come as soon at May 1. During the announcement, Ford enthusiasts and investors alike will be listening to see when Mulally's last day will actually be.
This is big news, not only in the auto world, but the corporate world as well. However, it's not surprising.
Investors have been expecting a Mulally resignation for quite some time, but were reassured by a 2012 announcement that he would remain at the company through 2014.
That reassurance turned iffy in late 2013, when speculation heated up that Mulally would be headed for Microsoft (MSFT) to replace the departing CEO Steve Ballmer.
Mulally's refusal to deny these reports only increased the speculation. (Here at TheStreet, we highlighted why he wouldn't be heading to Microsoft.)
In January, Mulally told the Associated Press that his plans at Ford had not changed. He planned to remain Ford's CEO through 2014.
But investors knew a successor was being prepped, the only question was -- who?
Ford's COO Mark Fields has been the favorite for some time. As early as 2011, reports surfaced suggesting Mulally, 68, might be on his way out, and that he and Bill Ford, the company's executive chairman, favored Fields as the next CEO.
Two lingering questions now remain for Mulally: when will he be done at Ford and what will he do next?
Will it simply be retirement for the man who saved Ford, while General Motors (GM) and Chrysler (now owned by Fiat (FIATY)) both slipped into bankruptcy? Will Mulally go fishing and travel the world, or will he find another company that badly needs his help?
Shareholders, consider this: Mulally steered Ford clear of bankruptcy and refused to leave when things got rough in Europe. He didn't want to leave when the global economy was in question and Ford would struggle. He knew he couldn't leave because his company needed him.
Now that he's decided to step down, it should tell you that he believes Ford will continue humming along, succeeding on its own without the need for his valuable insight and wise, battle-tested leadership.
Mark Fields will do fine, I'm sure. But Mulally will be missed. Not only by the company and its investors, but by the entire city of Detroit. I'm sure I speak for everyone when I say thank you, Alan.
At the time of publication, Kenwell held a long position in shares of Ford.
This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.
-- Written by Bret Kenwell in Petoskey, Mich.