The market share of electric cars shipped to Germany from China more than tripled in the first quarter, the German statistics office said on Friday, a worrying sign for German carmakers struggling to keep up with their fast-moving Chinese peers.

From January to March, 28.2% of passenger cars with electric motors imported into Germany came from China, compared with 7.8% in the same quarter the previous year, the office said.

Volkswagen and other carmakers are struggling to keep up as China's auto market, the world's largest, accelerates towards an electric future – leaving established global brands stuck in the slow lane.

"Many products for everyday life, but also goods for the energy transition, now come to a large extent from China," the office said. For example, 86% of portable computers imported into Germany, 67.8% of smartphones and telephones, and 39.2% of lithium-ion batteries came from China in the quarter.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz's government is increasingly wary of China as a strategic rival as well as its largest trading partner since 2016, and has considered a series of steps to reduce dependencies as it reassesses bilateral ties.

In the case of rare earths - essential for the construction of electric cars and wind turbines - Germany and the European Union as a whole are more than 90% dependent on supplies from China, a December study by DIW research institute found.

($1 = 0.9084 euros) (Reporting by Rene Wagner Writing by Miranda Murray Editing by Mark Potter)