Ford Motor Co. is searching for CEO Alan Mulally's replacement, according to a report.

People familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal that Ford is already in the process of reviewing candidates to take over for Mulally, who is expected to leave the company within two years. Mulally took over for chairman Bill Ford Jr. as CEO five years ago after a long stint at Boeing as an engineer and top executive.

Mulally has engineered one of the most remarkable turnarounds in American corporate history, considering Ford was nearly bankrupt when he took the job. Mulally, 66, still has his permanent home in Seattle. He has maintained he wants to see the Ford turnaround completely through, but doesn't plan to stay into his 70s.

A Ford spokesman told the Journal that no search is under way. Both Mulally and Bill Ford Jr. declined an interview for the article. Yet Ford said in a written response to questions that the company has a strong list of internal candidates to consider for Mulally's replacement when the time comes.

At Ford, we are fortunate to have a strong list of internal candidates and the Board is pleased to support their further development. While our preference always will be to develop talent internally, we also survey the external environment for potential candidates as a regular course of action.

Ford wrote further that, Having a viable succession plan to ensure business continuity is perhaps the most important duty of the Board and something we take very seriously.

Among the internal candidates likely to be considered are:

--Mark Fields, who heads Ford's North and South American operations. One of Mulally's top leaders, he led an important turnaround of Ford's North America operations.

--Joe Hinrichs, Ford's chief of Asian operations.

External candidates include, according to the Journal, John Krafcik, CEO of Hyundai's North America operation, and Phil Martens, CEO of Novelis Inc., an aluminum products company. Martens was at Ford until 2005, and is well acquainted with Bill Ford Jr.