With a headline torn straight from a futurist global dysphoria movie, The FT reports that Volkswagen is reversing course on the use of controversial weather-altering technology at a major Mexican car plant after local farmers complained that the system caused drought by preventing rainfall.
Hail storms present significant problems for car manufacturers, which often have large numbers of finished vehicles parked outside at distribution centers or plants.
The German carmaker had installed hail cannons, which fire shockwaves into the atmosphere, at its Puebla site to prevent the formation of ice stones that had been damaging finished vehicles parked outside its facility.
However, as The FT reports, local farmers said the devices, which were set to fire automatically under certain weather conditions, caused a drought during the months that should have been Mexico’s rainy season.
Gerardo Perez, a farmers’ representative in the area, told the AFP agency that the cannons meant the “sky literally clears and it simply doesn’t rain."
A spokesman for VW said on Wednesday that the company would immediately suspend the use of the machines in automatic mode, following meetings with state authorities this week.
“Once the anti-hail nets are installed in the yards, they will be used as the main measure for the protection of vehicles, while the devices will serve as a secondary tool and will only be used in manual mode,” he added.
“With these actions, Volkswagen de México expresses its commitment to maintain sustainable relationships with its stakeholders: environment, neighbouring communities and authorities.”
In case you're wondering how an anti-hail cannon works...
Volkswagen is not alone, when Nissan installed cannons at its Mississippi plant in 2005, neighbours complained about the noise of the devices, which push water droplets away to prevent them from forming hail, firing off shockwaves every six seconds during stormy periods.
And finally, we wonder what that 'global warming' believers think about the fact that VW is 'intentionally' heating up Mexico to protect their cars from hail damage? Time for some more taxation, surely?!