Mary Barra

One would expect that as the CEO of one of the largest automakers in the world, the pay would be pretty darn competitive. And for the just-announced incoming CEO of General Motors, Mary Barra, the financial compensation package could well be substantially rosier than it was for her predecessor. That's because she'll be the first exec at the company's helm since the federal government sold off its remaining interest in the company earlier this week.

Barra, who made a combined $4.9 million in 2012 between her $750,000 salary and $3.9 million in stock awards, could end up earning considerably more than the $11.1 million outgoing CEO Dan Akerson took home last year, according to a report from The Detroit News. During a call with the media, Akerson hinted that the newly independent company will have no pay ceiling, although he did hint that executive pay would be "more performance oriented."

"You've got to walk the talk. So a good portion of the executive compensation here, on the order of a quarter, will be tied to quality. And not quality as we define it, but by how the external view," Akerson said. He then elaborated that if execs don't hit quality goals, they won't receive that pay.

If Barra makes the same $11.1 million as her predecessor, it'd leave her salary between the $20.9 million earned by Ford boss Alan Mulally and the $1.23 million taken in by Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne (who draws most of his pay from Fiat).

Whatever the case, GM execs are claiming that the ability to set pay at levels the company sees fit shouldn't be viewed as a bad thing. That's because the automaker believes it will be better able to recruit talent without Uncle Sam looking over its shoulder.