Ford Motor Co posted a 41 percent drop in U.S. sales in March from a year ago with declines across all its major vehicle segments as the industry continued to feel the impact from a deep recession.

Ford's total sales fell 40.9 percent to 131,465 vehicles in March for all of its brands, the automaker said. Sales of Ford, Lincoln and Mercury brands fell 41.3 percent overall, while sales of its Volvo brand fell 31.4 percent in the month.

Ford, which posted a company record net loss of $14.7 billion in 2008, said it expects to have gained retail market share in March. Its retail sales fell 36 percent from a year ago and sales to fleet customers were down 50 percent.

On Tuesday, Ford introduced an incentive plan that would cover payments for customers up to a year if they lose their jobs. The program, similar to those offered by rivals, runs through June 1.

Among its Ford, Lincoln and Mercury brands, car sales fell 36.6 percent, crossover utility vehicle sales fell 35.9 percent, sport utility vehicle sales fell 73.2 percent and truck and van segment sales fell 40 percent.

Ford reported inventories of 408,000 for its Ford, Lincoln and Mercury brands at the end of March, a 27 percent reduction from a year ago, in line with the sales decline, it said.

(Reporting by David Bailey; editing by Gunna Dickson)