General Motors ordered half a million replacement ignition switches nearly two months before it contacted federal safety regulators to report the issues that caused a recall of millions of vehicles.
The news was first reported by The Wall Street Journal, who cited email exchanged between the automaker and its supplier Delphi Automotive Plc.
The email exchanges supposedly took place in mid-December 2013 between a GM contract worker and Delphi. They indicate that GM placed an "urgent" order for more than 500,000 replacement switches on Dec. 18, just a day after a meeting of senior executives, The Journal reported.
GM didn't announce its recall until February 2014.
"This is simply mind-blowing in its raw evilness," said Bob Hilliard, lead counsel for the personal injury and wrongful death plaintiffs in the Federal Multi District Litigation against General Motors, according to Reuters.
"GM should have notified its customers immediately to take all weight off of their keychains. By the time GM actually ordered these parts, it had to have already spent months making the decision to place the order," Hilliard added in his statement.
GM has been under fire for waiting 11 years to start recalling millions of vehicles with ignition-switch issues that have been linked to fatalities. The switch in question can slip out of position, causing the vehicle to stall and disable air bags.
The defect led to the recall of 2.6 million vehicles earlier this year.
The first trial in consolidated litigation against GM over a number of safety issues, like a faulty ignition switch, has been set for Jan. 11, 2016 by a federal judge in Manhattan.
So far, 61 claims haven been determined eligible for compensation, including 30 deaths and 31 injuries.
GM is offering $25 gift cards to owners of vehicles affected by the switch issue if they bring in their cars to dealerships to have ignition switch repairs completed no later than Dec. 1.
The promotion is available to around 700,000 people, but only to those who haven't ordered parts or contacted a dealer to get their ignition switch fixed.