General Motors said it saw signs of flimsy ignition switches in the Saturn Ion as early as 2001, three years earlier than the first indications of a defect previously disclosed by the automaker.
According to GM’s filing on Wednesday with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, GM received a report on the "passlock" system for the Saturn Ion's ignition switch in 2001, during pre-production development of the car. The chronology was released to explain a second batch vehicles recalled globally last month.
The report said the ignition switch’s problem was "low detent plunger force," but a change in the design of the ignition switch resolved the problems. GM engineers and outside investigators would later find a similar problem with a Delphi-supplied ignition switch used in 1.6 million vehicles between model years 2003 and 2007.