Mercedes-Benz Vans (copy) (copy)

A Mercedes-Benz Vans employee works underneath a Sprinter van under assembly at the German manufacturer's campus in North Charleston. Provided/Mercedes-Benz Vans

A global transportation company that handles incoming parts and finished goods for other businesses is expanding to the Charleston region to support the Mercedes-Benz Van plant.

Logistics giant Kuehne + Nagel Inc. said it plans to create 180 jobs over the next three years at its new Palmetto Commerce Park operation in North Charleston. Hiring for the positions is already underway.

The firm is setting up shop on the expanding Mercedes-Benz campus, between Ashley Phosphate and Ladson roads. Its services will include taking deliveries, managing inventory and transporting parts to the Sprinter plant assembly line as needed on a "just-in-time" basis. 

Bob Mihok, president and CEO of Kuehne + Nagel North America, said the deal extends the company's 15-year relationship with Germany's Daimler Group, which owns Mercedes-Benz.

"Our supply-chain services in the new Charleston ... van plant will improve assembly line productivity and enhance vehicle production," Mihok said in a written statement. "We look forward to adding value to our customers' supply chain for many years to come."

The North Charleston site has for years reassembled partly completed Sprinter utility vans imported from Germany as "kit" vehicles as a way to avoid steep U.S. import taxes.

Strong demand for the vehicles from North American buyers convinced Mercedes-Benz in 2015 to invest $500 million over several years to convert the plant into a full-scale production factory.

The carmaker expects to increase its payroll along Palmetto Commerce Parkway to about 1,300 workers by 2020.

Established in 1890 in Germany, Kuehne + Nagel is among the world's biggest air, sea and ground logistics providers. The Switzerland-based company works with a variety of industries, including automotive, aerospace, energy and retail. It has more than 1,300 offices and 70,000 employees.

Contact John McDermott at 843-937-5572 or follow him on Twitter at @byjohnmcdermott