A critical Nissan Group data center in Denver crashed Aug. 17 apparently because of a power outage. The results were widespread and frustrating for the automaker and its retailers last week, sending customers away empty-handed and interrupting factory production — as Nissan Group is doggedly trying to shore up falling U.S. retail sales.
But the crisis also demonstrates a larger vulnerability for today's auto industry, which depends on complex digital vehicle distribution systems that link data and commerce among consumers, retailers, distribution networks, manufacturing plants and finance companies.
All of that shut down for Nissan Group last week, affecting the operations of Nissan and Infiniti's approximately 1,300 U.S. dealers as well as an undetermined number of retailers in Canada and Mexico. It was unclear at week's end how many new-vehicle sales Nissan Group lost from the glitch or what the ultimate cost will be to dealers, sales personnel and service shops.
The system, referred to internally as NNANet, is the retailer's tool for ordering cars and parts, obtaining product rebate information to know how to structure a sale, checking on vehicle recalls, filing warranty claims to enable service work to be performed and priced, and seeking factory financing information.
"Everything we do with Nissan goes through NNANet," said Tim Hill, owner of Hill Nissan in Winter Haven, Fla. "That is our lifeblood."
The system remained down for four days, grounding operations at many retailers. Service was restored by 6 p.m. Central Daylight Time on Wednesday, Aug. 21.