General Motors CEO Dan Akerson has announced plans to retire and the automaker will appoint Mary Barra as Akerson's successor making her the first female to become CEO at a major automaker.

According to the Detroit Free Press, Akerson already had plans to retire, but moved up his timeline after his wife was diagnosed with cancer. The announcement comes just one day after the federal government sold off the remaining shares it still held in the automaker.

The 51-year-old Barra is GM's senior vice president for development and has been with the automaker for 33-years. She was one of four potential candidates mentioned to take over for Akerson along with GM North America President Mark Reuss, GM Vice Chairman Steve Girsky and GM Chief Financial Officer Daniel Ammann.