Akerson, who took GM's top post in September 2010, said that the choice of successor ultimately will be up to GM's board, of which he is chairman.
"I think we do have people here that I think fit that bill," Akerson said, declining to name them. "Of course, I'm on the board and I'll have an opinion. But that's kind of what I would look for."
Values outside views
In a securities filing in April, GM disclosed that Akerson was not awarded any restricted stock units in 2012 "in acknowledgement of the possibility of his retirement before the completion of the three-year vesting period," which would end in 2015. Beyond that disclosure, GM and Akerson have been mum on his retirement plans.
"We're very comfortable with our succession planning, which we have in place for all our key officers," a GM spokesman said.
An emphasis on accountability and a rooting out of GM's notorious bureaucratic morass have been hallmarks of Akerson's tenure. A former telecommunications and private-equity executive, he often says that he values outsiders' perspectives of what he views as a parochial industry.
He also has a penchant for unconventional executive appointments. Last year, he chose Bob Ferguson, GM's chief lobbyist and former telecom executive, as global head of Cadillac.
In early 2011, he surprised industry insiders by choosing Mary Barra to lead GM's global product development, despite her relative lack of a vehicle-engineering background.
Barra, 51, has emerged as a leading candidate for the CEO post. Akerson has lauded her performance in overseeing GM's busy slate of new-vehicle introductions. He also recently expanded her role by giving her oversight of GM's purchasing enterprise, which has a budget of more than $75 billion.
'A fair shot'
Other insiders thought to be in the running include GM North America President Mark Reuss, CFO Dan Ammann and Vice Chairman Steve Girsky.
Reuss, 50, is often described as GM's highest-ranking "car guy" and is perhaps the most visible candidate of the bunch. With oversight of sales and production in GM's most profitable region, Reuss also has a big say in GM's product decisions.
Ammann, 41, is the face of GM to Wall Street and was a key architect of the company's November 2010 IPO. The former Morgan Stanley investment banker has been more visible lately -- in September he presided over the unveiling of GM's next-generation SUVs, a rarity for a CFO, in New York.
Girsky, 51, who spent most of his career as a Wall Street automotive analyst, is one of Akerson's top lieutenants. He oversees a hodgepodge of GM functions, including corporate strategy, global product planning and GM's connected-car division. He spent much of the past two years in Europe forging a turnaround plan for GM's money-losing Opel unit, which has shown narrower losses and healthier sales recently.
"In our opinion, each of these four has a fair shot to run the company in a few years," Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas wrote in a note to clients last spring.
Akerson said he'd like to see the next CEO be a calculated risk taker who's not afraid to make mistakes -- and be accountable for them.
"You have to establish accountability and an orientation to risk, recognizing that we're not a fault-free company," he said. "Have the humility and audacity to say 'I made a mistake,' and back up and go down the other way."