Chrysler Group executives are close to deciding whether to build a Jeep pickup based on the Gladiator concept vehicle, says Joe Eberhardt, executive vice president-global sales and marketing.

“It's not open-ended because there is a time when you can utilize the buzz generated by a concept,” Eberhardt says. “We need to make a decision in the next couple of months.”

Chrysler has poured considerable effort into building the Jeep brand with targeted marketing strategies and a broader variety of products.

Through September, Jeep sales in the U.S. rose 10%.

Adding the Gladiator would bring to at least nine the number of models in the future Jeep lineup, counting the '06 Grand Cherokee SRT-8 and a pair of concept vehicles that debuted at the recent Frankfurt auto show.

The Jeep Compass and Patriot cross/utility vehicles are expected to get the green light for assembly at Chrysler's Belvidere assembly plant alongside the Dodge Caliber.

The Gladiator concept, which debuted in Detroit at the 2005 North American International Auto Show, features all of Jeep's iconic cues — the boxy profile, round headlamps and slotted grille — along with an expandable cargo bed.