That's tougher with people holding onto their new cars longer. In the past, you would start looking for a new car every 3 or 4 years, and when you did you might start looking at several brands, not just the one you were driving.

Conversely, since we are going longer between new car purchases, what we want or need in a new model may change more as the years pass. As a result, Pratt said, the brand we are driving may not have the type of vehicle, or styling we want for the next stage of our life.

"It's more difficult to retain a buyer, especially if they've changed stages in their lifetime," Pratt said. "Their needs for a vehicle may have changed, so they may abandon the brand they've driven for many years."

--Written by Phil LeBeau at CNBC
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