Tesla earned a profit in the third quarter, fulfilling Elon Musk's promise of a turn to positive cash flow amid months of scandals involving its high-profile CEO and federal probes, the company announced Wednesday.

The electric-car giant's deliveries of its new Model 3 sedan grew to 56,000 as America's most valuable automaker surmounted production delays, delivery woes and a federal regulator's lawsuit over Musk's tweets.

Tesla logged US$312 million ($478.6m) in profit, swinging into the black for the first time in many quarters. It had US$6.8 billion in revenue, compared with analysts' estimates of roughly US$6.3b, and more than doubled its revenue compared with the same quarter last year. Tesla's share price jumped 10 per cent in after-hours trading.

The US$50b car company, Silicon Valley's biggest challenger to Detroit, has won fervent loyalty from buyers of its sleek, pricey, battery-powered SUVs and sedans. But it has scrambled for years to prove it can survive in a hotly competitive industry packed with cheaper and more traditional gas-powered cars.