It appears that General Motors began preparing for its ignition switch recall far earlier than previously known. According to emails viewed by The Wall Street Journal, a contract worker for the automaker allegedly placed an order for 500,000 replacement ignition switches from Delphi to prepare for the repairs on December 18, 2013. However, the actual recall for the parts wasn't announced until two months later in February 2014, and it had to be expanded several times afterwards to cover an increasing number of vehicles.

According to WSJ, the "urgent" order came a day after an executive meeting where the situation with the Chevrolet Cobalt was discussed, but no records were kept about what was said there. These emails reportedly were found as part of the discovery phase of a lawsuit against GM for the campaign currently pending in New York.

GM spokesperson Alan Adler told the newspaper that the company wasn't required to divulge parts orders to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In fact, according to WSJ, it's not entirely uncommon for an automaker to order components prior to a recall. Still, the documents have added fuel to the fire about GM's allegedly poor handling of the situation. They seem to indicate the business waited months to let customers or regulators know about the potentially deadly problem, while it got the fix ready. Even though representatives met with NHTSA in 2007 to discuss the issue. At last count, the company's compensation fund had approved payouts for 30 deaths and 31 injuries related to the faulty switches.

UPDATE: In an emailed statement, Adler tells Autoblog,

"These emails are further confirmation that our system needed reform, and we have done so. We have reorganized our entire safety investigation and decision process and have more investigators, move issues more quickly and make decisions with better data.

How it works today:

  • Potential issue review with appropriate data to determine whether further investigation is warranted
  • Open investigation review recommends for or against a recall or other field action
  • A group of senior leaders quickly decides whether or not a recall is warranted"

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