Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and France's PSA Group on Thursday announced plans for a merger.

The plans, which still need to be approved by regulatory bodies and unions, will see ownership of the merged company, estimated to be worth over $48 billion, split 50/50 between the current shareholders of FCA and PSA Group.

It will also see the merged company become the fourth biggest automaker in the world by volume. We're talking 8.7 million annual sales, $190 billion in revenues and 410,000 employees spread over a dozen brands, including big names such as Jeep and Ram.

FCA and PSA Group brands

FCA and PSA Group brands

PSA is Europe's second biggest automaker and controls the Citroen, DS, Opel/Vauxhall and Peugeot brands. The automaker currently operates a small car-sharing service called Free2Move in the United States, which is largely confined around major airports, and its Peugeot brand is confirmed to arrive sometime in the next decade.

PSA CEO Carlos Tavares has been picked to serve as CEO of the merged company, and FCA Chairman John Elkann as its chairman. Elkann, who is also chairman of Ferrari, is a member of the Agnelli family, whose holding company Exor is the controlling shareholder of FCA.

The merged company will be headquartered in The Netherlands and have shares listed on France's Euronext and Italy's Borsa Italiana exchanges, as well as the New York Stock Exchange.

FCA and PSA mentioned the challenges of developing new technologies, namely electrified and self-driving cars, as one of the reasons for the merger. Estimated annual run-rate synergies are $4.1 billion; these won't come from any plant closures but rather sharing of development costs and purchasing.

Carlos Tavares

Carlos Tavares

The new deal largely finishes what former FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne started in 2014 when he openly explored the idea of a merger with General Motors to help share the load on capital expenditure. It's also a realization of Tavares' long-held dream to head a major global automaker.

Following Marchionne's death in July 2018, Elkann courted PSA before talks heated up with rival Renault earlier this year. Reports indicated that FCA originally rebuffed PSA's proposals for a merger because it didn't solve Fiat's cash-crunch in a weakening European market and exposed both automakers to deepening manufacturing and labor deficits in Italy and France. It's unclear what, if anything, has changed since that deal reportedly fell apart last spring.

In May, FCA attempted a merger with Renault for a 50/50 deal, but it fell apart. Reports indicated that the French government's stake in Renault drove an insurmountable wedge between the two automakers with politicians looking for assurances that no factories would close in France as a result of the merger. The French government owns a 15-percent stake in Renault, including voting rights. FCA was said to be in talks with Renault as late as August.