Mapco opened its 14th location in the Chattanooga area this week with a new 5,600-square-foot convenience store and Pizza Hut eatery along Shallowford Road near Highway 153.
The new gas station, which features Mapco's latest "store of the future" design, will be open 24 hours a day and includes eight fueling stations and three diesel lanes, along with new cash-accepting self-checkouts and an AllPoint ATM.
The Mapco station is one of a handful of new gas and convenience store outlets being added this year in the Chattanooga area to offer both fuel and fast-food options for motorists along some of the city's main traffic arteries. Despite the projected rise in electric-powered vehicles in the future, major gas retailers are investing millions of dollars to add more gas stations in combination with fast-food options in Chattanooga.
"Our stores continue to see a high demand for traditional fuel options, and we have equipped our stores with large, modern exteriors to accommodate that demand," Mapco spokeswoman Rachel Gerardi said in an emailed statement. "We will continue to innovate at our stores in order to meet the needs of local communities, with modern technologies and enhanced offerings that further our guests' experience such as Grabango checkout-free technologies now available at select locations."
Mapco recently rolled out electric vehicle chargers at select locations in the Nashville market, and Gerardi said the gas retailer "plans to expand their availability across the Southeast as our new and existing locations continue to evolve."
The new Mapco opening comes only six weeks before Weigel's expects to open its biggest gas station yet in Chattanooga in early September. Bill Weigel, CEO of the Powell, Tennessee-based gas and convenience store chain owned by his family, said the Shallowford Road Weigel's station being built on the other side of Highway 153 from the new Mapco station will include a truck facility and will cost about $5.5 million to build and equip.
"This is close to Highway 153 and well located to serve all of the trucks and traffic in that area," Weigel said during a telephone interview Wednesday. "There are a lot of trucks in that area with no nearby service facilities so we think this will be a good location for us."
Weigel's entered the Chattanooga market by opening its first location along Highway 153 in Hixson in May. Weigel said that based on the initial success of that location, he is looking to eventually add eight to 10 stores in the Chattanooga region.
"We're moving toward larger locations with more food options," Weigel said. "We will have our own kitchen on Shallowford Road, and we'll be selling our own pizza and a full line of sandwiches. We're upgrading our food to the highest quality."
Weigel said gas-powered vehicles will be around for decades, "and right now we think electric vehicles are 20 to 25 years away from being a major factor in the market."
"Gasoline sales might go down, but gas-powered vehicles will be around for a long time yet," he said.
Along Amnicola Highway, across the Chattanooga State Community College, the Fort Myers, Florida-based Creighton Construction and Development is building a new 7-Eleven gas and convenience store that will include both Loredo Tacos and Raise the Roost chicken and biscuits.
On Browns Ferry Road in Lookout Valley, a QT QuickTrip gas outlet and convenience store also is under construction.