Volkswagen has been accused of destroying crops grown near one of its factories in Mexico using weather-altering technology.

Local groups have accused the German carmaker of causing the drought by using hail cannons, which fire sonic booms into the air to prevent hail from forming. The devices are used to protect cars parked outside the factory from dents caused by hail.

After the complaints, Volkswagen promised to reduce the use of cannons at its Puebla plant.

“Although there is no evidence that the use of these devices causes a lack of rain, Volkswagen (VLKAF) Mexico has decided to adjust its operations to maintain a harmonious relationship with its neighbors,” a company spokesperson told CNN.

“Volkswagen… [has stopped] he uses these devices in automatic mode and only operates them manually when meteorological conditions indicate imminent hail,” she said.

The automaker said it now plans to install “hail nets” on more than 150 acres to protect your cars. It said it would continue to use cannons if necessary.

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Volkswagen produces hundreds of thousands of cars at its plant in Puebla, Mexico.

The automaker employs around 15,000 workers at the Puebla plant, which produces models including the Jetta, Beetle, Tiguan and Golf. Hundreds of thousands of vehicles are produced at the plant every year.

Local activists said the cannons damaged crops in the region.

“We are happy to know that as a group we have raised our voices against VW Mexico’s use of hail,” one group said. in the statement Posted on Facebook (FB).

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Volkswagen employs thousands of workers in Mexico who produce hundreds of thousands of cars a year.

Mike Eggers, owner of a hail cannon manufacturer in New Zealand, said the technology is often wrongly blamed for stopping the rain.

“In reality, the technology is not around rain, it’s around hail. And there is a difference. A significant difference,” he said.

Cannons have been used for decades, most often to protect crops.

— Marilia Brocchetto, Claudia Rebaza and Max Ramsay contributed reporting.

CNNMoney (London) First published August 23, 2018: 12:38 pm ET

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