Ford CEO Alan Mulally may step down earlier than expected, according to reports from Reuters this morning.

Mulally was originally expected to remain as Ford Chief Executive until late 2014, but Reuters report sources saying the board may let him leave earlier so that he can 'explore other roles'.

The move suggests that the company now has confidence in the ability of its existing management to sustain its current position.

Mark Fields, Ford's Chief Operating Officer, is hotly tipped to become the next boss of Ford. Reuters says that Mulally has been linked to roles in the Obama administration and as a possible successor to Microsoft Chief Executive, Steve Balmer.

Last week, Carlos Tavares stepped down from his role as Renault chief executive. He had previously voiced an interest in heading up a global US car maker.