Volkswagen is facing new accusations. But they have nothing to do with cheating on emissions tests. Instead, farmers in Mexico are accusing the carmaker of causing a drought. Volkswagen uses so-called hail cannons to protect newly manufactured cars parked outside at its Puebla factory. The cannons shoot sonic booms into the air to purportedly prevent hail formation, CNN reports. Farmers and activists in the region say the cannons are also preventing rain, thereby ruining crops. A Volkswagen spokeswoman says that there is no evidence that the cannons reduce rainfall, but that the company will stop using them on automatic mode and, instead, use them only when "meteorological conditions determine imminent fall of hail."
But one local official tells Agence France-Presse that any use of the cannons is "unacceptable." "They are not respecting their neighbors' request to definitively stop using hail cannons," says Rafael Ramirez. "The company can take other measures to protect its cars, but people here can't live off anything but their land." Volkswagen says that it does plan to install "anti-hail nets" over some 150 acres. Despite Volkswagen's apparent belief that the cannons prevent hail and the farmers' belief that they prevent rain, the scientific evidence is lacking on both counts, the Washington Post notes. A 2006 paper in a German metrological journal calls hail cannons "useless." Farmers want Volkswagen to pay some $4 million in compensation, per AFP. (Read more Volkswagen stories.)