Akerson -- an engineering graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy -- said Thursday that he did not anticipate major changes in Whitacre's strategy or approach when he takes over on Sept. 1.
"We share a common vision for the goals and objectives of this company," Akerson told reporters on a conference call. "There are remarkable opportunities ahead for the new GM, and I am honored to lead the company through this next chapter."
Under Whitacre, 68, GM's management ranks and layers have been thinned, with executives holding more authority to speed decision-making. He has made building GM's core brands a priority to accelerate sales growth and overcome lingering taxpayer concerns about the automaker's government bailout.
"We still have important work ahead of us," Akerson said. "But I am confident that we are building the foundation for GM's long-term success."
'More to do'
At GM, Whitacre moved fast to revamp key roles -- often selecting outsiders. He has named a new chief financial officer, a new head of its core North American automotive operations, as well as new executives to oversee U.S. marketing and communications. In June, GM revamped product development, with Whitacre taking the reins of global product planning, and new heads named for powertrain engineering and quality.
"My goal in coming to General Motors was to help restore profitability, build a strong market position and prepare this iconic company for success. While we have more to do, it is fair to say that GM is headed on that path," Whitacre said in an e-mail distributed Thursday to senior GM executives.
"I have complete confidence that Dan Akerson will keep us moving forward. Dan is committed to GM; he's been a key player in the decisions our board has made over the last year. He will do a great job."
Still ahead for GM is an initial public offering. The company is seeking to raise $12 billion to $16 billion this year.
"Dan Akerson is a very good person to take the company through the IPO," Rebecca Lindland, an analyst at IHS Automotive, said on Bloomberg television. "While he hasn't led a traditional manufacturing company before, he certainly has the credentials to lead any company going through changes in its financial structure."
Said Pat Russo, lead director on the GM board, in a statement: "Dan Akerson has been actively engaged in and supportive of the key decisions and changes made at the new GM. He brings broad business experience, decisive leadership, and continuity to this role."