Reports say that Ford Chief Operating Officer Mark Fields will become the next CEO of the Dearborn-based auto maker. Fields will succeed Alan Mulally, who will step down before the end of the year.

Fields has been with Ford for a quarter of a century. Bloomberg News, which first reported Monday that Fields would succeed Mulally this year, says the announcement may be made official as soon as May 1.

Bloomberg says its sources are (quote) "people who asked not to be identified."