RICK KRANZ

Jeep's Manley wants a pickup, but will Chrysler?

Rick Kranz is product editor for Automotive News

CHELSEA, Mich. -- Mike Manley wants it.

But the head of Jeep won't get it, at least for now.

The question pops up every time he meets with journalists: "Will you build a Jeep pickup?"

Manley has been pushing for a Jeep pickup, and a styling concept was shown briefly at last September's dealer meeting in Orlando, much to the surprise of dealers. Now I'm hearing that they want the pickup, too.

During an interview today with a group of journalists at Chrysler Group's proving grounds here, Manley said he is "incredibly interested" in selling a Jeep pickup. He has no doubts that there's a market for the product.

But, he says, "We are still in recovery mode. As a company, we have to be very disciplined. We have to be very, very careful about investments."

Manley did say something interesting that hints a Jeep pickup could be progressing toward approval: "A lot of the pickup market is commoditized. I would not want to do a commodity Jeep."

Sounds like the market already has been decided for the Jeep, even though the product program has not. The message: A bare-bones, entry-level pickup is not in the plan. This would be a more premium product.

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