I'm writing about a setting which will be developing an industrial civilization on a planet similar to Earth in relevant ways, except that certain heavy metals such as lead, are much rarer. (Other elements, in particular middleweight metals like iron and copper, have about the same abundance as they do on Earth.)
For many of the things for which we use lead, there are good substitutes. Iron works fine for bullets; ceramics and brass make non-toxic pipes; there are lead-free solder alloys.
But what about lead-acid batteries? I'd like to say lithium is better, or I remember sodium-sulfur being another alternative battery chemistry that was in use for a while. But lead-acid has been oddly persistent, still in use in regular car batteries even today despite the use of lithium for other kinds of batteries.
What accounts for the persistence of lead-acid batteries, that makes them so hard to replace? What would be the best substitute, on a world where lead is not an option?