Vauxhall admits first Zafira fire recorded in 2009
Vauxhall revealed it was told about a problem that caused its Zafira B model to catch fire more than six years before it recalled the vehicles.
MPs have called the car maker's reaction "wholly inadequate", accusing it of treating owners with "complete contempt".
Vauxhall has twice recalled more than 230,000 Zafira B cars in the UK - last December, and May this year.
However, Zafiras had been recorded bursting into flames since 2009.
Two Vauxhall directors told MPs on the Transport Select Committee that the company had identified 19 cases of fires clearly linked to a heating issue.
The London Fire Brigade said in May that it had attended 120 Zafira fires since 2013, including 14 this year.
Peter Hope, Vauxhall's customer experience director, and Charles Klein, engineering executive director at General Motors - Vauxhall's owner - struggled to reply to questions about why the company had taken so long to warn customers of the dangers.
Mr Hope said: "We have the first recorded case of a fire in a Zafira B. That can clearly be attributed to the heating and ventilation system fire, that we are talking about here, on 11 February 2009."
One MP, Stewart McDonald, MP, said: "What is it with the car industry? It seems to treat its customers with complete contempt - complete contempt - because you know people will keep on buying cars because they need them."
He told Mr Hope and Mr Klein: "Your response to this has been wholely inadequate and contemptuous to people [who] you have just said are loyal to your brand."
Mr Klein replied: "We took this very seriously inside our company because the safety of our customers is critically important. We assigned as good and as talented people as we could to understand the issue and once we understood the issue we acted quickly."
Mr Hope said: "For customers, either ones who have experienced a fire which is enormously traumatic for them and their family, or those customers who have had the inconvenience, Vauxhall and I are truly sorry for that."