I don’t for a second agree with your assertion that it’s naive to believe we can significantly reduce the use of automobiles, at least if we’re talking about urban centres, which is the focus of my piece. I agree it’s not as common to see such plans in North America, but many European cities (Barcelona, Paris, Oslo, Stockholm, etc.) are moving forward with ambitious plans to significantly reduce the use of cars with the goal of eliminating them within a couple of decades. It’s not difficult to do if we have the will and are presented with credible alternatives that enhance our quality of life.
Will cars still have a place in rural areas and even outer suburbs for some time to come? I don’t doubt it. These are areas where driverless solutions may be put to good use, and where Musk’s visions could be applied, as I state in the piece. However, I do not think that they translate to cities. Further, we’re already seeing outer suburbs being abandoned by young people in particular so they can move to cities, and in Japan, which I would argue gives us a preview of how society will look when our demographics get even older, outer suburbs are becoming ghost towns as young people move to cities and leave older people behind.
I think it’s fair to generalize and say that younger people (at least so far) desire the convenience and accessibility of dense urban living, and they’re not as attracted to suburban life. Some may return to suburbs when they have families, but I don’t think it will be as common as in past generations, both because of different expectations and changing family dynamics. Yet Musk’s innovations are more suited to the declining rural and suburban lifestyles, and don’t fit with the needs of dense urban centres.