More than likely, the next CEO of General Motors Co. will be someone auto people have never heard of.
Alan Mulally was all but unknown to the automotive world when Bill Ford snared him from the No. 2 spot at Boeing in 2006. Chrysler-Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne was an even bigger mystery when he moved to Fiat in 2004 from SGS Group, the Swiss inspections, auditing and certification services company.
So don't count on a famous car guy to take command at GM, although that hasn't prevented conjecturers from rounding up the usual suspects.
Renault-Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn, 55, is generating some chatter. He had a foot in the door at GM in 2006 when a merger with Renault-Nissan was rejected by GM.
Other names tossed around are Ford's president of the Americas, Mark Fields, 48; ex-Chrysler COO Wolfgang Bernhard, 49, who currently is head of the Daimler's vans business; ex-Volkswagen and BMW boss Bernd Pischetsrieder, 61; and recently deposed Porsche CEO Wendelin Weideking, 57.
What are the chances for a non-North American? Acting CEO Ed Whitacre raised eyebrows by saying he is conducting an "international search" for a new president and CEO.
Nonauto names also are being bandied about. Among them: Deere & Co. Chairman Robert Lane, 60, and Caterpillar Inc. Chairman James Owens, 63.
Daily Finance blogger Peter Cohan suggests Louis Gerstner, 67, one of the most heralded turnaround heroes of the modern era. He's the guy who revitalized IBM in the 1990s.
Even Mulally's name has been put forward, although Cohan sees him as a possible replacement for Boeing CEO James McNerney. That suggests that the Ford boss, now 64, could have a business life after the automaker.
One intriguing bit of whimsy was making the rounds last week. The talk in some circles was that the U.S. government is so enamored of Marchionne that it wants the 57-year-old Italian-Canadian to take the reins at GM and merge the company with Chrysler-Fiat.